The time is approaching when we will pick Sarah up from her first year of college. She is done near the middle of May and even though its only the end of April, she sounds like she's ready to come home. We miss her greatly. She's having a blast making her own life and I realize this is part of the whole growing up process, but that doesn't mean it's any easier for those of us who raised her for 18 years.
In our church every week, we got thrust back into the realm of small children. Because a few of our members are younger than us, we get a good number of kids ranging in age from 3 months to about 9 years old.
What this has done is make me realize how much I miss those little bodies, those tiny minds and the innocence that comes along with it. It seems like last week we were "in the trenches" like these parents are. The trenches for us meant diapers, and formula, and late night feedings, and naps, and snotty noses, and nuks (binkys), and lifting and setting down and lifting again.
Now, before those of you with small children offer to "set me right," I'll have to add that, while I miss those days, I don't miss them. I miss them in a "I miss the drive in theater" way, not a "I miss disco music" kind of way. They were some of the crazier, tougher days of my life. My mom refers to the child rearing years as the "black hole years." You're grinding it out every day, wiping noses, changing a zillion diapers, shaking formula, running kids to and from sports, schlepping diaper bags, strollers and car seats. Then after putting them to bed, you think, finally, some time for myself!
And then you nod off in your ice cream dish.
At the same time, those were the best years too. I will forever miss reading to my kids at night. One or the other of us did it virtually every night. Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Curious George, Shel Silverstein, Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Foot Book, and all the rest. It is the one thing I think I miss the most. Watching their reactions and letting them pick their favorite book. Every kid deserves that kind of connection time with a parent. Not every kid gets it though, which is tragic.
So as we were sitting at dinner tonight with my deep-voiced 16 year old son tonight laughing about his working cohorts and the funny stories he brings home I realized how lucky we were to have such good kids. Not perfect kids, (do they exist?) but good kids. Compassionate, mature, hard-working, considerate, polite, smart, engaging kids. I wonder what we've done to deserve them? After all, we fed them chicken nuggets for like, seven years! Thank goodness they were able to rise above that little nutritional short-change.
And I think, well, we were there for them. We stuck out the hard times, we punted to each other when we were exhausted, we read to them, we pushed them in school, we gave them their faith, we set rules and boundaries, and we fed them chicken nuggets.
Well, nobody's perfect.