We finally made it to Spring. This winter was the coldest, wettest, cruelest winter we’ve had in years. In Seattle, my kids missed enough school that they’ve tacked on four extra make-up days at the end of June. Argh! I love snow as much as the rest of them, and the first two or three times it snowed, I was thrilled. Then, it just kept on snowing and I thought it would never end. Not to mention the high electric bills that still take my breath away.
As Spring makes its way to the far reaching corners of Carnation, I can’t help but feel that I’m in the middle of a season of change, myself. My kids have suddenly gone from these little people who go along with my ideas, and who like what I like, to full-fledged individuals with ideas of their own and attitudes to back it up.
It’s all good. They’re delightful and fun to be with. They are open-hearted and accepting. They are filled with hope for the future and excitement about things like guinea pigs and lacrosse.
But my daughter is now as tall as me. She walks with poise and her laughter is contagious. My son is strong and energetic. His little boy-ness is passing away and I’m beginning to get glimpses of the man he will become. We sit down to eat dinner together and end up discussing politics, ethics, morality. They have their own ideas and their own thoughts about the workings of this world.
It does not escape me that my days as a mother are shifting and changing, that the long season of preschool when I could hardly get through the day because I was so tired, are over. Something else is required of me. My kids need my attention and time in a different way than they did when they were little. They need my wisdom, my prayer, my counsel. They no longer need to be told to obey in quite the same way they did when they were two and three years old and needed to learn to look both ways when crossing the street.
Now, they need counsel on how to be a good friend, on how to resolve conflict and what it means to make wise choices. They need my stories. They need my attention. They especially need my presence. Not my bodily presence to make sure I’m able to throw food their way as they toddle around, but my attentiveness.
This realization is changing everything about how I order my days. I don’t have as much time to get together in the evenings with friends anymore for a glass of wine or a cup of tea. I’m not reading nearly the amount I used to. I spend most of my free time driving my kids around and making sure they have what they need, that they’re doing their homework. I make dinner most nights and coach them as they help John and me clean up after dinner.
When my sister was here, we sat around the dining room table and told our childhood stories. We laughed with my kids, big belly laughs. We talked about boyfriends and heartbreaks. We discussed divorce and remarriage. We talked about disappointment. My children drank up these dinner conversations like chocolate milk. They turned their ears to my history and listened. Children need to hear their stories, the beautiful and the painful. It’s all important in order to form a whole identity.
In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo has a long talk with Gandalf about the time in which he’s living, about his responsibility and how he wishes it could be different. Gandalf says, “But that is not for them to decide, all we have to decide is what to do with the times that is given us.”
None of us gets to choose when we were born. We were born to a set of parents in a certain city during a particular era. We were put in certain schools or schooled at home. We were raised in church or we weren’t. Then, we come of age and have choices at our fingertips. I chose to leave the country and travel the world on a ship. Then I chose to get married. Then I chose to have two beautiful children. Those were good and beautiful choices. Things I’m proud of. They also set me down a particular path that I can’t un-choose.
Now, I’m right in the middle of living my one and only life and my choice is to give my whole heart to the life I’ve got, not the one I should have had, or the one I wish I’d had.
It takes a certain kind of wisdom to live into your life and recognize it for what it is. To have the eyes to see the bounty that is placed before you. This season for me is a season of prayer, of listening to my kids, of being present at home with them, and paying attention to the small details of our lives. I can’t afford to let ambition and greed overtake me, to spend my days in regret and bitterness over what has or hasn’t happened. I have to be content and wholehearted in the great wealth I have been given.
You get to choose what you say yes to and what you need to walk away from, and we get to remember that what we walk away from right now need not be forever. It might only be for a season.
What is the season you are in? I’d love to hear.
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