In church last Sunday we sat behind a young couple with two little girls, one about three, and the other less than a year. The infant is something of a charmer–not that I’m all that difficult to charm–and I flirted with her intermittently through the meeting. The older sister was the typical big sister, alternately scolding her little sister for making noise and stirring her up to make noise. It was a familiar scene; that might have been us ten years ago.
Ten years ago.
As cute as those little girls were, however, I don’t really want to go back. I like my kids the ages they are now. They’re not as adorably cute, perhaps, but they’re much more interesting–with all the accompanying negatives that can come with that, as well. But all-in-all, they’re good kids, and I can see how my wife and I are reaping what we have sown. Our kids are our kids; there’s no denying it. For better or worse they are, in part, what we have made them.
During our nightly walk Sunday night my wife reported similar thoughts from watching the same family. Neither of us would choose to go back to those young-kid days, even though they were, in many ways, simpler times. But we do find it a little distressing to realize that within the next ten to fifteen years we’ll likely be empty-nesters. That’s a bizarre concept. Who are with without kids?
One of the best parts of having older kids is their ability to fill in the gaps. My wife and I both have interests we don’t necessarily share. I like fantasy and sci-fi, be it books, movies, or games, for example. My wife prefers Westerns. No worries, we both love classic movies. But I am enjoying having kids old enough to appreciate many of the things I like. I have someone to discuss books and movies with. They help me get my gaming fix. I’m sure they fill a similar role for their mother.
That’s not to say they won’t game with me when they’ve grown, but they’ll be busy with their own families–and they should be. At some point my wife and I will discover we need to find some new things to do together, perhaps. It seems like forever since those early days of just her and me. What did we do with all that time we had?!
Not that I should get too concerned just yet. We’ve got at least another ten years, after all. But considering how quickly the first fifteen years have flown by, it’s not that far off. Weird. In many ways it seems as though my life began when I got married, even though my pre-married life was twice as long as my married life to this point.
I’m not entirely sure what the point of this post is–if there’s any point at all. Perhaps it’s just this: I can’t go back, even if I wanted to. But going forward is going to be bitter-sweet. If like is like a box of chocolates, then it’s mostly dark chocolate. I love my life, and so even though it’s occasionally good to check the horizon, I need to make sure I’m paying close attention to the moment. These moments are numbered.
Not that there’s nothing to look forward to. Quite the contrary; I’m sure the next phase of life will be every bit as interesting and rewarding. But I’ll get there whether I want to or not. No need to worry about that. Better to try to appreciate each day for the miracle it is.