I woke up long after dawn
Twenty years had come and gone ~~Brandi Carlile
A few years ago, I was shopping at Target and I overheard a woman say harshly, “I have four children at home and I wish they were all grown so they could move out.” The lady she was talking to asked her how old the children were. The woman answered, “Two, four, six and nine.”
Wow. Maybe the woman was having a bad day. Maybe she was a single mom and overwhelmed. But to wish away so many years…
Twenty years went by in a flash.
Those were the words that Jim spoke a little over a week ago. Our youngest, Craig, has moved out and is now living on campus at University of Evansville. It’s not like we are separated by miles; but it still is a startling revelation when you look around and realize that your children are grown.
It’s been four years since Derek left to join the Army. Since that time he has met and married Brittany, our beautiful daughter-in-law. Derek has been to Iraq and back (thank you God for keeping him safe). He has established a life beyond our own and we are so proud of the man he has grown to be.
We feel equally proud of Craig. Craig opted to live at home his freshman year. He went to school full-time, worked part-time and kept a very active church life. Most of the time, he was tired…but he never complained. But he was overloaded and this year, living on campus, will afford him more opportunities, safe in the knowledge that a home cooked meal is only minutes away.
Twenty years. Craig turns twenty on September 15. I remember the day he was born…”sunny side up” as the doctor called it. His eyes were open and he looked around himself in quiet wonder. He’s still that way, seeing things that young adults his age often take for granted or overlook totally. He has a wisdom beyond his age…an “old soul”. If you’ve ever read anything Craig has written or heard him deliver a sermon, you understand what I mean.
As I think back over my children’s lives, I remember joyful times of playing and reading and adventures outdoors. I remember times they were sick and caring for them. I remember hard times and some dark days. But one thing I remember is always enjoying the age they were at. I loved them as babies…sitting up at night when the world was quiet and feeding them. Marveling over their tiny fingers and button noses. I watched them begin to see the world around them as they learned to walk and talk. I watched their personalities develop and define who they were. Derek, the explorer of the world outside and Craig, because he was sick so much, the explorer of the world through the books he would come to love and cherish.
As they entered school they became involved in a world away from my eyes for the most part. A world of new friends, new challenges, new successes and of course, new failures. I watched as they stretched and grew, reaching for those things that held their interest. I enjoyed the friends that would come over to play or spend the night. Sitting upstairs, listening to their laughter bubble up through the floor.
I spent countless hours watching Derek play baseball. I could tell by the dip in his shoulder when he was going to steal a base. I cheered as he rose from behind the plate to “gun down” a runner trying to steal a base on him. I watched him cheer and encourage his teammates. I watched him grown into a caring, generous young man, who always was there for his friends and hurt right along with them when they hurt.
Craig’s love of reading echoed my own. When he began to read books in middle school that I had read as a child, we were able to discuss and share our points of view. This continued through high school and into college. He is also a gifted writer, another of my passions. He would write stories and bring them to me to “edit”. I watched him grow up as Jim calls him ” a deep thinker”, not only about his books, but about people. Craig always found ways to be involved in his community and help those around him.
I was able to go on mission trips with both my boys. What an amazing experience that is, to watch them reach out to others. I think it was through their service, that I first saw them as individuals, separate from my self, with their own identities. Both of them were able to, with a great deal of ease, relate to those they were serving. It was amazing to watch.
Each age…a gift. Each moment now a memory. I don’t wish my boys young again. I enjoyed all those days but I look forward to the days to come. Listening to them as adults, telling me their concerns, their wishes, their dreams. Watching them achieve those dreams, working hard at whatever task they encounter.
But I wish I knew then what I know now…just how precious each moment is. And, how fast each moment flies by. There were times that were stressful. Times that were hard. No child is perfect…no parent is either. But even the hard times didn’t last. And we were all the stronger for them. Lessons learned through adversity are lessons learned well. When I think about it, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Don’t wish it away…don’t look at it like it’s forever. ~~Elton John
God, I thank you for my children. Thank you for our families who helped in countless ways as Derek and Craig grew up. I thank you that you brought Jim and I to a loving church family that helped to nurture our boys into the men they are today. I ask you for your blessing upon them and help me to remember to enjoy each moment that I share with them. Amen.