I feel like parenting is defined by this constant angsty tension – wanting so much for a hard phase to be over, simultaneously feeling guilty that we are wishing it away, and then immediately grieving each stage as soon as it has passed. It seems like we are constantly sandwiched between a hope for an easier stage, and a regret that the harder stage is gone.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Psalm 90:12, NLV
In the course of 12 hours I got the news that my grandma had passed away and sent my youngest child off to kindergarten. Both are things that I had tried to prepare for mentally, but the sucker-punch of two transitions so close together has left me reeling a bit, and caused no small amount of reflection on life and the brevity of it all.
I’ve been waiting for the day that all my kids would be in school for years. If I’m honest, I often felt like the toddler years were a “survival mode” until you got to the big payoff: kindergarten. Free childare. Guilt-free time alone. Space to hear your own thoughts and eat lunch alone. I couldn’t wait to have all four kids in school. It felt like the big pay-off to the stress of having kids so close in age. It was a milestone I wanted to rush towards.
And now that it’s here, I can’t help thinking . . . why did I want to rush this? Why was I so keen to push all of my babies out of the house? And why didn’t I relish the time with them more? I thought I would be jumping for joy when this day came, but instead I’m thinking back to all of the sweet moments Karis and I had together when it was just the two of us and her siblings were at school.
I’m also feeling some wistfulness about our summer. Why didn’t we do more? Why didn’t I make the moments more special? Why, for the past month, have I been counting down the days to get them out of my hair?
I suppose the solution to this parent paradox is true for life in general. . . the trick is learning how to be content in each given moment, without dwelling on the future OR the past. I’m doing my best to try to live in the moment and celebrate each phase of life my kids are in. But oh, it’s hard not to look back. And it’s hard not to look ahead.
My grandma’s passing has put that in sharp focus today – the reminder that life is brief, and that family is the main thing. Keeping that at the forefront, as life and it’s inherent dramas ebb and flow – that’s the prayer for today . . . and every day.