Just Beyond the Beginning
I’ve noticed recently that I take notice of parents of small children as I’m out and about. Fondly. Remember going to the grocery store with toddlers? Diaper bag. Kids fidgeting. A stop for chicken nuggets on the way home, or other necessity-driven fast food which was decided more by the toy that came with the meal than what the meal itself might have been. At the time, those things seemed so frantic and exhausting… because they were frantic and exhausting! When I see these parents now in my daily travels, I quietly envy them. They’re just at the beginning.
We’re in a great place in our journey, don’t get me wrong… Our home recently became the territory of a teenager, one who will continue to be every bit the outstanding young man he was at age 12 all the way into his twenties and beyond. My little lady turned 10 as well, leaving the single digit years behind forever.
Every time they age a year, I miss some of the things we leave behind, and at the same time relish new joys I hadn’t foreseen. Dress shopping!? That’s always been fun, but the stakes get much higher with every new curve that joins us on those shopping escapades nowadays. Keeping up with the boy’s thirst for new technologies? Debating with the little lady about the book she recently read? (I never imagined I’d learn to read at all, let alone discuss or debate reading assigned to me by a 10 year old…) And don’t get me started on learning new things! Sometimes I have to learn how to learn about the boy’s interests before I can even hope to begin to learn them!
All good stuff. All of it.
When I see the parents of toddlers with their fried nerves, and talk to parents who have empty nests, I realize more concretely all the time where we’re at in our journey. As far as I can tell, we’re only just beyond the beginning.
I say it that way because it seems like a lot of people define the ‘end’ a lot of different ways. Some see sweet 16 as the end. Some 18. Some see college or the inevitable empty nest one way or another as the end. By many of those definitions, I should be mourning the coming end already? I don’t think so. I choose to view the end as the day I stop breathing. And not a moment sooner.
Because I see it that way, I look forward to so many things to come. The Hot Rod Power tour as a family that did the whole trip together. Family meetups at the beach for spring break. Poopy grandbaby diapers. Maybe a family project car? Helping replace a water heater late on a random Thursday evening. The comfort of a Daddy-made dinner after one kid or another has had a brutal day… By my calculations, that’ll still only be about halfway through to the end.
Remember training wheels? The excitement of your kid’s first ride without them? The bittersweet taste of both victory and sorrow, knowing that there was one less safety net under them now? One less apron string for them to cling to you by? The pride on their faces as they conquered this symbol of childhood? Do you know what I did when both kids abandoned their training wheels? I dragged my bicycle out of the pile of junk it had been under for years, dusted it off, tuned it up, and have been doing my best to keep up ever since. Someday I’ll do that with my diaper changing skills too. Like riding a bike.
Little one said to me recently, as I (apparently transparently) nonchalantly fished to see if this was the year our Valentine’s Day Dates might come to an end, “I’ll be going to dinner with you on Valentine’s Day long after you’re dust!” I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but I do know that I’m on duty at least until I stop breathing, and possibly longer. Seems like my calculations must be on target!
It feels good, being just beyond the beginning. If my life were a series of beach trips, we’d be just now pulling into the hotel for our first day of our first week at the beach. Many future days (and trips) to come. Those parents with toddlers at the grocery store are just now packing up for that first trip. Good stuff. All of it.
Cheers from Just Beyond the www.ThreeFiveZero.com Beginning