Goodbye Promised Land. It's Been Sweet Here.
My family and I attended a fundraiser this evening for our boys' elementary school. It was at an ice cream shop. More notable, it was the LAST elementary school fundraiser we will ever attend, where all THREE of my boys are in elementary. Yes, watching these boys of mine boys finish their ice cream tonight, I willfully ignored the fact that our oldest son will turn 12 in August. He is almost out of “The Promised Land."
“The Promised Land” (a term stolen from my friend Brandi) is when everyone is potty-trained and wipes their own butt, yet not old enough for big kid issues.
It’s the sweet spot when you’re no longer worried about a kid dying from peeing into an electrical outlet (oh, the things that have been peed into at my house) but not yet dealing with big kid parties (do they have alcohol, will a parent really be there?), teaching children to drive (God help us all) or the myriad of other scary things that are sure to accompany the (myriad of) amazing moments that are sure to come with helping teens navigate life.
As we ate our ice cream, talking and enjoying the beautiful day, I purposefully pushed all of my thoughts surrounding the end of Jackson's elementary years to the back of my mind. We chatted and laughed and talked about all things little boy.
This whole week though, I’ve been thinking about every older mom who ever said, “the days are long but years are short.” They were so right, time is simply flying by.
In a million tiny moments of joy, exhaustion, laughing until I cry (and crying until there is nothing else to do but laugh) these kiddos continue to grow up. And while I certainly haven’t “enjoyed every moment” (what kind of guilt inducing phrase is that anyway?) I can say that I’ve tried desperately to savor as many moments as possible.
My prayer is that in 15 years, when this whole, did-we-read-the-right-books-choose-the-right-method-etc, experiment is over, that by the grace of God our boys....if nothing else..will know that we were a team. That their parents fiercely loved them. And that every screw up and stupid mistake we made along the way truly was at the time, us doing our very best.
Jackson graduating from elementary school next week is insane. I’m not sure my brain can process all of this considering that his preschool graduation seems barely 5 minutes ago. Back then, I had 3 boys under 5 years old. (ie: NOT the "promised land"). Life felt heartwarming. It also felt exhausting. When Charles Dickens wrote “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” I swear he was talking about raising small children. It is the most joyous time of your life, full of chubby little faces constantly kissing you. It’s also the most physically and emotionally depleting because those same sweet faces won't allow you one minute of reprieve, or one night of actual sleep. In those days I DREAMED of the day when I could leave the house without poop or pee somewhere on my clothes. I wasn’t sleeping through the night, and couldn’t even fathom a day when I ever would again. And yet here I am, not even able to remember the last time I was up in the middle of the night. All 3 of our boys now ride bikes without training wheels and nobody asks me to pour the milk for their cereal anymore.
"The best and worst part about parenting is that it’s the only job where your goal is to work yourself out of a job."
Ever heard that phrase before? It's good. It's true. It's kinda sad.
So, here we go, into the next phase. And while every moment won’t be bliss, I’m acutely aware that they will continue to fly by at the speed of life. I'm acutely aware that, as the years fly by...
- we’ll have new and harder challenges and that we will most assuredly be further sharpened.
-that the end of the little years will bring much higher stakes along with more opportunities to help these little guys become men of integrity.
- that we will spend many an evening lying in bed questioning, "have we taught them well enough?" "LOVED them well enough?" "have we struck a good balance of tough love, boundaries and grace?" "instilled within them their inherent value" "equipped them with enough truth?" "maybe the zip line from his window wasn’t so dangerous and I should have just said yes more?"
Tonight, however, all of that was pushed aside. At least for a little while. Tonight we simply ate ice cream with three smiling little boys, and celebrated this precious age where ice cream and snuggles still fix everything. For a little bit longer.