17 June 2013

allowed to cry

My baby girl has turned nine this morning.  Well, she will at 11:35 am to be exact, but that's irrelevant to everyone but her.

This morning, as I lay in bed, she came bounding into the kitchen and greeted her daddy with a very excited, "It's my birthday!"

I lay there and listened as they visited about when she was a baby - the things he remembers fondly - that she cannot remember at all.

And I cried.

And then I remembered that my baby boy turns four tomorrow.  Four.  No one under four in my house (save this small thing fluttering about inside).  Four is big.  Four is pretty much adult.  Four is learn to put your clothes away, learn to make your own lunch, learn to get your own bandaids age at our house.  There is something little about three year olds that four year olds just don't posses.

So, I cried some more.

I have always eschewed this phenomenon of lamenting the aging of our children.  We want them to grow up - to become who they were designed to be and who we are, hopefully, helping along the way.  We are supposed to be happy when they quit mispronouncing things and learn to competently put on their own shoes.  We are aiming at a finished product, and crying over growth is contrary to that aim.


As parents, we have the privilege of an intimate knowledge of stages in their lives - of times when they are different people.  Both Ada Brooks and Collins have entirely changed- him over the last twelve months, and her over the last five years.  They are different people.  And not only did we know them when, we bandaided and cried and helped them change.  Not having any babies at my house has meant that I'm not following people around trying to keep them from eating marbles of death or going down concrete stairs head first.  I have put down that type of exhaustion (for a few more months), but I have picked up different kinds.

I have one child who we're trying to teach to respect people's desires for space and calm at certain times, one who is beginning the life long process of boundary-drawing in her own relationships, and one who is so hurt by the idea that people, including him, do wrong, that he has a mini-existential-crisis three times a week.

I. talk. all. day.  I.am.the.question.answerer.  A new kind of exhaustion has crept along and joined our ranks.  I look at these people, with whom I'm not fighting many "you must eat your broccoli" battles, and I am thankful to have begun to phase that out.  (Until November, when we start all over.  Oh, the humanity.)   I am fighting new battles, because the terrain has changed. What a blessing. 

But I am also sad. I'm not fighting those battles, bandaiding those cuts, and laughing at those silly words said just a tiny bit wrong, because, well, they're finished with being those people with those needs. 

They have changed into new people.  And that is what we want.  But losing something is always hard.  They will never be my babies again - and them being my babies was good. 

My grandfather is approaching the end of his life.  He will go to live with his heavenly father after a life as well-lived as any I've known of, and it is good.  It is good that he was born, that he has lived 91 years blessing every life he ever touched, and it is good that, as his health has deteriorated, he will soon leave us for life free from pain.  He has finished his race, and, if the Lord says it to any of His broken people, He'll certainly say to Big Paul, "Well done."  But, we will all still cry.  Because it is sad to lose good things- for good things to come to an end.

So, I'm going to let myself be sad.  I have a little girl who is trying hard not to be a little girl anymore, and two little boys who are slowly learning not to crawl in my lap.  Trying to hold onto it is silly, and worse, destructive.  And not looking forward to what comes next is a waste of a great amount of hope.  But, I will still cry.  Because it is sad to lose good things - for good things to come to an end. 

I feel like I'm reading the best book I've ever read, and I see the bookmark moving every so gradually through the pages, and it's not as though the middle is not as good as the beginning.  In very many real ways, it's better.  Honestly.  I promise - conversations with 9 year olds are better than they are with 3 year olds, despite the lack of adorable phonetic confusion.
And the end will, Lord willing, be better still.  But it still means there is less to go - it will end, and sooner every day.  They will leave, and I will hope that we have done our duty and we all still like each other as much as we do now- or more.  And more than that, I will thankfully collapse into the arms of a husband who I like better than all of them.

But, the book will end, and the bookmark is moving, and I am allowed to cry.  
She's halfway to 18 - half way to gone, for goodness sake.  I am allowed to cry. 

1 comment:

  1. Well said, AL. We're there with you. - adam