Thanksgiving came and went in a whirl of highway miles, streaked with snatches of conversation we caught between mouthfuls of pie and wild little people. My people aren’t so little anymore, and I watched, slightly amused, while everyone else participated in stain and noise management, while my kids lounged in chairs and told campfire stories. If you have little ones right now, you have much to look forward to in the future. Namely, people who can feed themselves and have a coherent conversation. Teens and tweens are a joy when they use their words to tell stories, which usually portray you as a crap parent, but that’s beside the point.
It hit me with the force of a seismic wave this holiday, how few years we have with them. How one moment they clamor underfoot and cling to your knees, and you just try to survive until the mandatory evening glass of wine and thirty minutes of quiet, and then–they’re gone. Or almost gone, and all you want is to climb outside of your circle of quiet and draw the words out of them, and have them tell you their stories. Especially the ones in which you no longer play a starring role.
It’s hard to believe their lives diverge from you, that you are merely the root system for this magnificent branch. When I think on this while waiting in the pick-up line or when smoothing the sheets on their bed, I wonder if I’ve fed them enough. Have I nourished them on more than terse commands and repeated requests for them to Just. Stop. Fighting.? Have I set these roots down deep, so they never forget where they come from and who they belong to? This sense of belonging is an important one, one that I didn’t feel too often outside of my nuclear family as I grew up. I want my kids to know that they belong to me, and to their grandparents and our church and our lifelong friends. I want them to know they belong to a God who, in His infinite wisdom, knew enough to give us to each other. We are exactly what the other one needs, and this speaks freedom to those of us who so often feel as if we get this parenting gig all wrong.
We are imperfect people raising imperfect people. Let’s rest in that. Let’s tell our stories and drink our wine and put down everlasting roots. Let’s savor, savor, savor the time we have, and when the non-savory rears it’s head, let’s acknowledge that this child-rearing craziness will pass, or at the very least, provide material for next year’s turkey talk.