Thursday, August 03, 2006

Seasons

I don't know what it's been lately, but I've been feeling a little, I don't know, sad? Melancholy? I read my own post, and then Robb's current post and it hit me again. Time passes so swiftly. I've been looking around me at the kids in the neighborhood and they are growing up so quickly. I look at my own boys and see these young men. What happened to those chubby little hands? When did they turn into the capable hands of men? And those fat little feet with pudgy toes - gone. Replaced by the striding feet of men.

Does anyone remember the book "I'll Love You Forever"? I used to read it to the boys when they were young. It starts out with a Mom rocking her baby, then follows them through childhood, into adulthood, till the baby is a young man watching over his mother. Every time I read it to them, it would bring tears to my eyes. Now I can feel that slow creep of time sneaking up on me, and I know that some day, hopefully in the distant future, that it will be me that is watched over.

Do you ever play that game in your head - the one where you figure out what was happening in your family when your Mom or Dad was the same age you are now? I'm 48. When my Mom was 48, it was 1983. Eric and I had already been married for four years and were working at our first post-college jobs in Spokane. My big brother was finishing up college after serving in the Navy, my younger brother had just joined the Air Force. My two sisters were still at home and in high school. I thought my Mom and Dad were so old - I couldn't imagine the day that I would be that old. Now I realize how young they really were. I wonder what my kids think - do they look at us and think that we are old parents? I hope not. I hope our active and busy lifestyle shows them vitality and promise. I hope that they admire us and think, I want to be that active when I'm their age. One of my inspirations has been my great Aunt Babe. She's 87 years old and lives in one of the ocean towns. She keeps her own house and gardens, and she walks one to two miles on the beach every day. I want to be like Aunt Babe.

In the last few days, as I thought more about this season of parenting drawing to a close, I realized that not only are we moving back into the couple phase of our lives, but we are also moving into another role - where we make the shift from being watched over, to doing the watching, and even, the guiding. We have already had one experience of the sea change that occurs when the roles reverse and the child becomes the steady support to the parent. We are moving into that season of our lives where we will be facing it again, with my parents and with Eric's Dad. Our blessing will be that we won't be doing it alone, but with the combined support of our brothers and sisters.

Today, Riley was talking to me about his new relationship. There's a birthday coming up and he was planning what to get her. Then the discussion moved on to homecoming and prom. And then to college. The whole time, while we were talking, the home-movie reel was playing in the back of my mind. I met Eric when I was 16 and he was 18. I remember, so clearly, those first days of dating. The first shared birthday, the first homecoming and prom. As Riley was talking, I was thinking Oh. Oh. This could be it. Maybe not, but it could be. It happened to us, why not to them? Why couldn't this young lady be the love of his life? Oh. But they are so young! And funny, I remember my Mom saying to me, "You are so young yet, don't rush it." (By the way, I didn't. We didn't marry till I was 21, but we dated the whole time.)

It is bittersweet. There are new and exciting things coming our way. Web and Riley will continue to grow and mature, they may bring new members to our family, they will certainly experience all that life has to offer - both joys and sorrows. And we will be there in the background, we will be the same steady source of support to them that our parents are to us. Until, one day, they will be watching over us, replaying the same song in their heads as they contemplate how swiftly time passes.

19 comments:

Robb said...

I guess I should have given you credit as inspiration. I suppose you got me thinking about this when I read your last post. Thanks.

You've crafted another beautiful entry Michelle.

Wes said...

Isn't watching the season's change a wonderful blessing? Michelle, this is your reward for having lived a wonderful life, not that life is over by any stretch of the imagination! It's just the rewards get deeper and have more meaning now as we understand more and more. Thanks for sharing this with us. That's one thing I like about blogging. You get to meet such wonderful people from all over the world.

robtherunner said...

Both Web and Riley are very lucky to have you and Eric as parents. I think the way they act and handle themselves in social situations and in their daily life is a testament to what a good job that you have done as parents. Even if Web walks around barefoot all the time you have to remember he did come from a birkenstock wearing mother. And I am sure that he boasts to his friends about how active you both are and about how his mother is going to run a marathon.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

what a beautiful post.

I do the same thing with my family - think of what my family was like when my mom was my age. I wonder what I'll be like when I'm the age she is now - what Ash will be like, how are family will be.

David said...

Sunrise sunset. I'm not known as an outwardly sentimental type, but that book, I'll Love You Forever, has been known to bring tears for me as well. Another one, even worse, is, shoot, I can't remember the title now, but it's all about the 'last time' - there will be a last time I make you a juice cup, wash your hair, hold you in my arms, etc. Sniff. It's a big idea, there will be a last time for everything, and you generally won't know when it is.

At nearly 47 I also play the what-were-my-parents-doing-at-my-age game. That's a happier thought for me, I could now kick my 16-year-old slacker ass in a cross country race. My parents at this age were wheezing up the stairs. My kids though are not impressed, they just think I'm bonkers. Oh well :-) It's all good. I love the passing of time.

craig said...

It's great that you and Eric have known each other so long. I've known Pamela since 9th grade. We were good friends until my final year in college(I was on that degree plan where you cram four years into five). So there weren't many surprises when we got married at 23.

With a daughter entering her second year in college and one finishing high school this year I can really relate to this post. This past year has been a year of adjustments. I see more on the horizon.

Jack said...

Time really seems to fly by. I sometimes sit back in disbelief that my kids are know adults, that my daughter has her own kids - it doesn't seem so long ago that I was still changing diapers. But on the other side it's a good time, my life is going in new and exciting directions that weren't possible when the kids were home.

JustRun said...

Now that my sister and I have both been out of the house for a few years I can say that the relationship we have with my parents now is so wonderful that, even though I miss it, I'd never go back. The value of the four of us treating one another as capable adults is so great and it sounds like you'll have that with your kids. Of course, the parenting side still comes out on occasion (especially with my mom) because some things just don't change.

Anne said...

I do play that game of guessing what my parents were doing at my age. And they do suddenly seem to have been so young at the time.

Sarah Elaine said...

Heck, woman, I got all choked up reading that post!! You have a beautiful and deep soul that runs thick with compassion and humanity.

Donald said...

When you say "this could be it," you're referring to...um...actually, I'm afraid to say anything else. (shutting up now).

Running by.... said...

Well put! It is amazing how fast time passes. Bless Aunt Babe...She's an inspiration to me as well!

matt said...

you have a tremendously beautiful way of looking at things, michelle. i am just on the beginning end of things with the family, but i can relate to the child and the mother in your experience and from both ends at the same time.

you have a beautiful family and that is a great inspiration to me :)

Nicole said...

What a great post. I'm at my sister's in MN and tomorrow is my nephew's 3rd birthday. I was with my sister when he was born and it is amazing to see how fast they grown and change. I can't even imagine Evan as an adult yet and trust me I can wait!

jeanne said...

oh that book! "I'll love you forever"--I cried when I read it to my daughter when she was, what, one?? She's 19 now. I could so clearly see today 18 years ago. It's the circle of life.

Hakuna matada, my friend!

*jeanne* said...

I believe the melancholy comes as you begin to realise that more time is behind you than ahead of you on this planet.

A thought that nevers enters your mind when you are young and still truly feel immortal...

Then suddenly Peter Pan has grown up, and Wendy, too. How did it happen to me?

I wonder about things all the time. Why we're here, just to leave so soon? Why it hurts to say good-bye? When will it be that I won't be here any longer?

Jess said...

That "I'll love you forever" book makes everyone cry! Have you seen the "Friends" episode when Joey does an "interpretive" reading of it?

Dori said...

I want to be like your Aunt Babe, too!

The passage of time... I don't have kids, but I've watched kids of friends and neighbors grow up. It amazes me that little Annie is graduating from college. And the little newborn that I held is almost 13!

I bought "I'll love you forever" for a coworker when she was pregnant with her first child, about 7 years ago. It made me cry, of course, and when I told her that, another co-worker asked why I would by a book that makes you cry. :-)

Dawn - Pink Chick said...

Wonderful stuff and I think the same stuff sometimes as I now watch my grand daughter grow up. Sometimes I feel like I never aged and then somedays I go wow, wait I remember thinking 50+ was old. Hmmm, nah, I'm not old.