Our day of celebration is a sweet memory.
For the fifth time in 10 years (four sons, one exchange student), family and friends filled our lawn and our hearts in honor of the one who has achieved a goal — high school graduation!
It is a bittersweet event, this final graduation gathering. In a few months, when the youngest heads off to college, we will officially become “empty-nesters”. Perhaps over this summer, I’ll get used to the idea. But today, the day after the feasting and fun, there falls a tear or two.
For almost 29 years, a child of one size or another has shared my days. I wonder — what will those days ahead look like without a child of mine walking through them?
….without shoes in a jumble just inside the door
….without empty drinking glasses and cereal bowls stacked on the counter
….without a call down the stairs “Mom! Where’s my…..?”
….without late night vigils over feverish babies — or sons behind steering wheels
….without endless questions and requests, both monumental and trivial
….without a TV remote locked in on the NBA channel (or Sesame Street)
….without four loads of laundry a day — half of it blue jeans
Before the blanket of “without” is pulled down over my head, I’m choosing instead to think of what I will be left “with”:
….with a kitchen counter that remains clean for an entire day
….with room in the fridge and a shortened grocery list
….with time to finish my “To Do” list
….with sons who return home with new experiences, new friends — or better yet, additions to our family
….with young adults who can be trusted to make wise choices and to ask advice when they can’t
….with memories of building tree houses, playing dress-up, impromptu music jams in the garage, picnics in the woods
….with new reasons to be on my knees
I tell my young friends, as they hold their little ones close and wonder if they’ll ever get a full night’s sleep again, that they probably won’t for a very long time, and that it’s a small price to pay for the joy and pain of watching their kids grow. “All too fast”, I tell them. It goes by all too fast. Don’t wish it away. Today, they’re a weight in your arms. Tomorrow, they’ll be heavy on your heart and then you’ll wonder:
“Did I do enough?”
“Will they remember all we’ve taught them?”
“Will they remember to call home?”
“Do they know how much I love them?”
It doesn’t end, this parenting thing, just because their bedroom door remains shut and the house has grown quiet. It just becomes different, which is as it should be.
In the words of King Solomon, recorded in the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8 The Message):
“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.”
So today, I guess you could say I’m “making peace” with this shift within our family. We will remain knit together, just in a new fashion, with a new fit.
It’s the right time to let go.