"She'll never live here again."
- Christina from Parenthood
Maybe it's because my baby is turning thirteen in a few days, but when Christina spoke those words about her graduating daughter my eyes filled up with heavy tears. "She'll never live here again." There's a time when Anson will go, and no matter if he's home for holidays or summers - I know. It will never be the same. The door to this segment of life we've known as parents will be closed - sealed - there is no opening it again.
Did anyone else's heart ache watching Haddie stand in front of her timeline? Seeing her life - past through present, boiled down and simplified? I found it a little hard to breathe realizing that life is kind of like that - flashes of memories and events. "I hope as Anson looks back - those memories - the collection of moments that seem to surface - are mostly good. Mostly beautiful. Mostly full of love."
When Haddie blew her parents off in the airport, I could see - her struggle to know how to be independent. How much is too much? This season in her life becoming real. Realizing she doesn't yet know the exact distance to push away. How far is too far, how far is still too close?
When Haddie turned back, with teary eyes and a quivering lip to bury her face in her parents' arms, I lost it. Did you? I could not help but fast forward my mind to that same moment when we stand on the cliff of this new season with Anson. In this moment right here - right now - it seems like parenting is a constant exercise in teaching, training, talking, discussing, deciding, and trying to understand and listen. There are so many dreams I have for our children. Dreams that include turning four young men out into this unpredictable, beautiful world filled with faith and the skills they need to continue to learn and grow. I want them to not only know how to diagram a compound-complex sentence, fold towels, scramble eggs, and know how to be a good friend, but to also know the importance of hope, grace, and forgiveness. Sometimes everything I want them to know seems too big - too much - mostly because I don't know how to do all of those things very well myself.
Watching Haddie turn and make a run for her parents - seeing the three of them simultaneously grieve and celebrate the moment when everything changes - I was reminded of how simple the goal really should be.
I don't know about you, but I can feel overwhelmed at times with all the to-do's of parenting. The list of what needs to be accomplished seems never ending. "Don't lock the keys in the car." "Pick up your dirty clothes." "Don't leave dad's tools outside." "Feed the cat." "Take out the trash." "Don't forget to put a new bag in the trash can." "This is how you make a cursive g." "Go read." "Do your math." "Do you have everything you need for school today?" "Yes. People really brush their teeth this often." "You're wearing two different socks." "Your shirt is on backwards." "For the five hundredth time - don't leave food in your back pack." "It doesn't seem like you were being very kind to your brother." "Don't follow the crowd." "Who cares what they think." "You are beautiful and perfect just like you are." "Don't make comments about someone's appearance." "How do you think that made her feel?" "You can't flush that." "You can't put that in the microwave." "Money can make people do terrible things." "Sometimes the only reason we can forgive is because we've been forgiven for so much."
Sure - it would be great if half of what I feel busy teaching our kids would make itself at home in their souls, but isn't what I want most for our kids is for them to walk away from this season at home knowing they are deeply loved. More than the lessons about life, and even more than the lessons about faith - shouldn't love be the banner over it all?
Doesn't love cover a multitude of mess-ups? Won't love cover up all the lessons we forgot to teach and the ones we taught all wrong? If love is the goal, then won't these days feel less like a constant countdown and more like an incredible, daily opportunity?
If love is the focus, isn't there always an open door - always time to continue to support and speak into our children's lives even after they go? Doesn't love offer the perfect environment for faith to grow? If there's love - won't there be time to continue to learn from our children? With love, is the door ever really closed?
Maybe it's because Anson is turning 13 in a few days. Maybe I saw us standing in that airport with our oldest child. Maybe watching Haddie wrapped up tight in her parents' arms - it hit me hard and heavy - if we simply send Anson out knowing he's loved - he's valuable - then what else is there, really? Maybe it's because for a brief moment I think I saw God's heart towards us - and it didn't look like a heart filled with to-do lists, books to read, or a record of where we're failing. It looked like teary-eyed-I've loved you all of your days kind of love. I can't put my finger on why exactly, but I know I walked away from last week's Parenthood less stressed about the details and more eager to simply spend these last few years with Anson making sure he knows how much we love him.
Other Posts from Parenthood:
I Take All My Advice from Parenthood, and that's not Weird at All.