A lot can happen in the blink of an eye. As far back as I can remember, I’ve heard people say, “Kids grow up so quickly; before you know it they’ll be gone.” Those words sounded as hollow as all the other phrases traded by “old folks,” back when I was still young enough disregard the fact that time did indeed have a grip on me. Call it “young and dumb” I suppose, but a few years would prove just how right they were. Fast-forward to the present where I find myself a father of three, the youngest already 12 years old. Suddenly it’s easy to see what they meant.
Our oldest daughter now lives in PA, which is where she was born and still calls home. She’s got a steady job, a reliable vehicle, a roof over her head, and a decent boyfriend. (Please understand that Dads normally call the young testosterone slingers “punks,” so in using the term “decent,” I am lavishing high accolades on this particular young man.) Since she lives seven hours away, imagine my surprise one recent evening when our front door opened and in she walked, grinning and exclaiming, “It’s me!” This was amazingly good on two counts: first, I got to hug my daughter and then spend the weekend with her, and secondly, she was alive and well to also enjoy the weekend. You see, God himself must have retarded my instinctive response when that door opened. When I’m home at night with my family, and I know we’re all here, then there is no reason my front door should open without me expecting it. Maybe it’s just a guy thing, maybe it’s my police background – regardless, an intruder stepping into my living room won’t get both feet in the door before I’m on top of him. So it was a good night for our daughter. And it was a wonderful weekend for all of us – together. I’ve thought countless times since then how happy I was to see her, and those feelings are proof of just how much I miss her being here.
Our son is finishing his senior year of high school, and is already on the way to fulfilling his dream of learning recon in the Army. No, it was not an easy decision when his mother and I agreed to allow him to pre-enlist before his eighteenth birthday, but he remains adamant that this is the direction he wants to go. While I couldn’t be more proud of my son for wanting to serve his country, no parent ever wants to see their child step into harm’s way. Suddenly I realize that our ever-happy dark-eyed little boy is gone forever, replaced by a young man who I now stand eye-to-eye with. A young man whose daunting task is now to figure out who he is and where he’s going. As the months tick quickly away, leading up to that day when he heads off to basic training, all I can do is relive the fun years past, and pray for direction and safety for him in the days ahead. And then wait for that day when he’ll also step through our front door, taller and stronger in his focus than ever.
Soon, our youngest will have the house to herself, only to discover just how much she misses the sibling rivalries of past years. And as she matures and her all her various interests gel into one direction, she’ll slip from our fingers to find her way just like her brother and sister before her. And her life, like theirs, will be beautiful because she has grown into the plan that God has for her.
As parents, we all have moments when we’d pay some poor unsuspecting soul to take our kids. But despite the challenges of raising a family, there is nothing in life I’ve found to be more rewarding. Unfortunately, the challenge is short-lived and there are no second tries. So take the time, invest the energy, and make those moments count. Word-up, new parents – take the advice of us old farts and DON’T BLINK!