As of this writing, I have two teenagers (basically)–a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old. They are great kids-smart, talented, hilarious, and really, they’re just good human beings. So here’s my true confession: I miss when they were little. I’m not particularly proud of it, but the fact of the matter is, I miss the years when they were little. I miss doling out Cheerios and watching Rolie Polie Olie; I miss when going to the park was a circus-level-excitement event; I miss them falling asleep while I carried them; I miss bubbles; and I miss dressing them in whatever I couldn’t resist at Target.
Just like the seasons before, this one is going to pass by and be gone forever, and I’ll want to come back. Knowing this, I really make an effort to stop and take in all the things that are unique and fun about this season of parenting. For example, when I’m waiting in the band hall parking lot again for my daughter to wrap up whatever she’s doing and come find me, it’s easy to think, “Man, how many hours of my life are spent sitting in this car, just waiting?” Instead, I think, “There will come a day, sooner than I’m ready, when I will miss this. There won’t be anyone to pick up from the band hall, and I won’t even get to see her every day.” If I’m being honest, a year from now, my days of getting to wait in the band hall parking lot will be over because she’ll be driving. And by the time her brother is in high school, she’ll probably be driving them both most of the time. (I’m saying these words, but I’m doing it from the security of my little cone of denial, rocking back and forth.)
Recently, as I was sitting—you guessed it—in the band hall parking lot, the Lord showed me something. It was the beginning of August, the month of marching band three-a-days, and I was in my car, watching the very end of practice. My daughter is a leader this year, and there was a group of leaders talking about something before they went back inside.
Out of nowhere, I saw something. The Lord showed me my daughter as a self-assured teenager, engaged in important band business with mostly older kids, and she was taking care of business. I’ve been proud of her before (a lot, actually), but this was different. I was enjoying her in a totally new way–a way I couldn’t when she was younger. I saw her standing in the fullness of her own accomplishments, and owning it. She was taking charge, all on her own. I may have arranged and paid for all those flute lessons over the years, and I may have been there for every competition and performance, but only she could do all the hard work, add drive, and take it up a level. That’s all her. So, sitting and watching her be that person was seeing her growing up in a new way. It was great.
Here’s the takeaway:
When your kids are little, you get to enjoy them up close. But when they grow up, you get to enjoy them from a distance.
I guess you’ll always miss those times when you got to keep them close, but it is deeply rewarding to see them coming into their own and to be proud of it. I’m happy for her, and I’m excited for her! And it’s incredibly reassuring to see that she really is growing up and taking charge of her own life in meaningful ways. Eventually (like in twenty years or so), she is going to run her own life on her own, so getting a glimpse into what kind of adult she is becoming brings me peace. The Lord knows my mama’s heart, and He knew what a gift it would be to show me that in that moment. I didn’t know I needed it, but He did, and in His grace He gave it to me.