I think having kids is kind of like a beach vacation. Hear me out on this one. I promise I’m going somewhere with this….
On the first day of your beach trip, everyone is TIRED from the long drive and all the work that led up to getting there. You’re still finding your way to the beach and just trying to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. All the while trying not to get sunburned on the first day. And of course trying to nap while you can to recover from that drive that took FOREVER. But amidst it all, you’re just incredibly grateful to be there. And you’re so looking forward to all the beach days to come.
Then around the third day of the trip, you’ve hit your stride and found your groove. You know where all the fun stuff is and where all the cool restaurants are. The beach feels familiar, and you know just where you want to set down your chairs. And you’re enjoying building that tan everyone is jealous of. And there are so many more beach days to come!
The fourth day is just as fun as the third. But the realization that your trip is ending in a few days is starting to set in. Didn’t we JUST get here? You’re still enjoying that sun and good food and those white sandy shores, but you’ve also turned your mind to all the laundry you need to get done before you leave in a few days. It’s a little emotional, actually. You’ve been there more days than you’ve got left.
Then the last day comes. The sun is shining just as bright, and you’re trying to soak up every last bit of that vacay. But you can’t stop thinking about the fact that it’s almost over. And there’s so much to do before you leave.
And then it’s over. You take a good long look at the ocean as you drive away, knowing you’ll see it again. Hopefully soon. But never soon enough. You just love that dang beach so much, and you’re so so grateful to have been able to stand on the sand with the sun on your face, even if it was only for a week.
For me there are many similarities in parenthood here. Having a baby can be so exhausting and tons of work, but nonetheless beautiful and filled with so many dreams of the future. Kinda similar to that first day of hazy, yet wonderful, beach time.
Having elementary-aged kids has brought you wisdom and the joy that you’ve survived babyhood and can enjoy this sweet, sweet time. There are so many more times together ahead, and each year just keeps getting better.
And then elementary is over. And it hits you that with the closing of this chapter, you’ve had more days with your child than you have left with them in your home. It’s like the day you realize you’ve been there more days than you’ve got left. That he’s eleven years old. And in just 7 or 8 more years, he’ll be off on a new adventure. And at the end of his time at home, he won’t be a little boy anymore. He’ll be a young man heading off to his future. Right now, on the brink of middle school, he’s still a boy in so many ways, but there’s a subtle change happening. He’s getting more responsible. And capable. And grown. And you start to prepare yourself. Because you’re on the back nine, as I heard a friend say recently. And you just can’t stop thinking about how nothing you can do will slow time down. And you try to soak it up as best you can with that ever-nagging thought that the end is getting nearer.
Whoa. That just got personal.
Right now, I don’t want to look any farther into the future than this. Because this is where we are right now. My oldest son just left his elementary school for the last time. I’m not sad school is over. I’m actually elated. One more morning zoom meeting might have done me in. But I do feel like I’m in that 4th day of vacation. The downhill slide. The back nine. And while I don’t wish I could go back to that first day when I could barely keep my eyes open from sheer exhaustion, I’m so very keenly aware that there’s not as much time left as I would like.
I know this is a wedding blog, but today, this is personal. I love where we are in this beautiful life, and I’m so thankful for this time we’ve had together. And I’m going to try not to think about the laundry piling up and just enjoy the sun – and my son – while I’ve still got time left.
And I’m also going to reminisce for a while on that little boy who was just starting kindergarten six years ago, with all the hope and happiness in the world.
Like Andy Barnard said, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I’m pretty sure THESE are the good old days. And I don’t want them end.
Congrats, Kaden. I’m just so grateful to be here with you.