Change, it is a-happening around here. My oldest, my firstborn, my suddenly taller-than-me man-child who made me a mama is a Senior in high school.
He was on my hip with a blankie in hand just five minutes ago.
Add to that the preparations for the homeschool year of my younger four, (I also have a JUNIOR for crying out loud!) cutting several inches of curls off my middle’s long hair (resulting in her suddenly looking like a teenager…which she is…but still…) and finding armpit hairs on my eleven year old son and, well, I may or may not be on the verge of tears at the mere sound of a baby laughing or a toddler holding up it’s arms and saying, “Hold you!”
I could lament, or I could celebrate the season I am in. To be honest, I’m doing a little of both.
I have no one in elementary school any more. No one who fits into “kids-size” clothing. No one who has a bow in their hair or baby teeth. It’s weird. It’s wonderful. It’s hard. It’s freeing.
Independence is right at their ages, for the most part. They shouldn’t need me to butter their toast or heat up their leftovers. They can fold their own laundry and put away the dishes. (Now if only I could get them to clean their ROOMS!) They can read and ride their bikes and entertain themselves, allowing me the time to do things I enjoy such as writing.
I homeschool the youngest four, which means we are together much more than we are not. But, still, sometimes I miss them.
Oh, they are here. I love engaging in their conversations and receive plenty of smiles and hugs, but life has dramatically changed in the past few years. They don’t “need” me like they once did, which is both awful and beautiful at once.
I took the three youngest to the zoo today. At ages 13, 11 and 11 (yes, that is two elevens) I wasn’t sure if they would think they were too “old” for the zoo. I feared they might think it “lame.”
I was so gloriously wrong.
We explored and oohed and ahhed over animals we had not visited in a long time. The new Andean Bear exhibit was breathtaking, two big bears wrestling and rolling in the grass like siblings. My thirteen year old whispered, not knowing I could hear her, “This is awesome.”
And it was.
Memories of their childhood flooded my heart as I saw mamas with babies in carriers, strollers parked outside exhibit doors, and heard a little boy exclaim, “My pip-pops!” when his flip-flop fell off. We all relished the sweetness of the little ones surrounding us as much as we relished the beauty and diversity of God’s handiwork.
It was a good day. It was filled with smiles and sunshine and, for just a few hours, I felt like I was standing astraddle of the gap between life as it was and life as it is. I saw the wonder of a little child in the faces of my not-so-little kids and I am just so thankful for the respite of remembering before the busyness of our school year begins.
Times are changing, old seasons are gone, but if I take a moment and open my eyes to what is before me I can see the hope and future of these children in whom I have invested my life. Despite the hormones and, dare I say, attitude of the pre-teen and teen years, the remnants of the little ones who once placed their chubby hands in mine are still there.
Now the hands I hold are bigger, stronger, and maybe even calloused.
But they fit mine perfectly just like they always have.