Saying Goodbye to the Familiar to Make Way for the New

My husband sat in the driver’s seat and popped his head out of the window, saying, “Say goodbye, this might be the last time you see your car!” I touched the side of the sliding door and said, “Goodbye, faithful friend.” I tried to summon tears, but really, that’s a bit dramatic, even for me, and he drove away. He was right, he came home from the dealership without the mini-van, without the car stuffed full of a decade of goldfish crumbs and half-eaten lollipops. He came home without the car that carried my three walking hearts for the last ten years, the one that drove us endless miles across America–captured every argument, every sweaty post-game crowd of kids, every morning goodbye in the drop-off line.

My son recently told me when he thinks of his childhood, it’s colored with memories of Splash Mountain, Cracker Barrel breakfasts, and the smell of despair (his own) from too many hours spent shopping at the mall. When I think of my kids’ childhoods, I think of the silver mini-van. It sat at the heart of everything. I was a mini-van mom, a role I rejected and complained about initially, but one I grew into over time. I grew with each deep conversation, each carpool kid, and each trip to a new, unexplored location.

There is nothing like the ministry of a mini-van to our kids and to our community. It is a microcosm of life on wheels.

We have entered a new season, with two teens and a tween. One kid is months away from driving. The five of us are rarely together in one place, but I still spend most of my time on the road, shuttling each one to their own activities. The mini-van served us well, but we have put that season behind us, before I feel ready. Sometimes, you don’t realize you’re in a new season before you’re knee-deep in the muck and mud of it. We have entered a new season of parenting, with our oldest only one year away from flying from our nest.

It is strange to think I’m no longer the mom wrangling three littles, or shuttling kids to elementary school. I’m no longer the mom who cuts out paper hearts or buys teacher’s gifts or takes photographs at the Daddy/Daughter dance. I’m the mom who cheers from the sidelines of their lives, while they run and run and run towards their future.

This is the goal, isn’t it? To work oneself out of a job. To move from season to season and let ourselves and our children expand into them, and grow with them, rather than fight the change.

The mini-van is an impermanent thing which gave us permanent memories. The lacrosse sticks, school books, and dirty clothes strewn around my house will not litter the floor forever. But the memories are the scent that rises, the one that brings us back to times of love and frustration and growth, this sweet smell is a fragrance we never forget. It smells like sacrifice and permanence and chocolate cake.

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I found this post tucked away in last summer’s archives, and I thought it could use a re-visit. Once again, big changes for our family lie on the other side of August, and my role will change with our new season of family life. We will say goodbye to good things to make way for those things that are better.

Are you facing big changes in your life this fall? How will you grow with them, rather than put up a fight?

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