Back and Forth

We said goodbye to our four-year-old nephew today.  We’d kept him for a few days because his parents were out of town.  It’s amazing how much having a little one changes the dynamic in a family.  With two teenagers in the house (and one who’s almost there) things are different for us than they were an eyeblink ago.

These days our lives are marked by large swaths of the predictable.  There’s lots of quiet and a fair bit of angsty journal writing.  But four-year-olds need to yell, to jump straight up in the air, to be reminded to go potty.  They need eye contact and physical touch and snacks.  They need sleep.

As we re-arranged our lives to provide those things for our nephew I realized that my teens need a lot of the same things he does–still, after all this time.  I watched them hunker down and watch kid cartoons with the pre-schooler, wrestle till they were sweating, play hide-and-seek, and evil robots.  I watched them grab books and blankets during the little guy’s nap, giving in to the old relief of a time-out.  I watched them be kids, and also, I saw their rapidly approaching adulthood as they helped meet the needs of someone smaller.  Someone they used to be.

And I remembered:  deep down, we are all four-year-olds.

 

 

Advertisements

Life by Numbers

The first week in December came and went.  My sister and her husband and kids stayed with us for a few days, and it was Christmasy to have littles in the house again.

And then, in the middle of Amazon deliveries, Christmas movie marathons, and reminding preschoolers to flush, our middle son turned thirteen.

I won’t spend time dragging out tattered cliches about time flying and all that.  But he’s the second of our three kids to cross this invisible threshold in the last fourteen months, and I have to mention it.

DSC_0129

Yesterday, we visited my eighty-year-old grandmother.  She is still beautiful to me.  Her hands shake now, but her nails are painted red and she wears diamonds.  We sat out on her sunporch, overlooking quiet fields, and reminisced about my childhood and hers.  She chuckled to herself, talked about my kids and me as if we are the same age.

My husband and I haven’t turned forty yet, but we notice the signs of a new normal in the bags under our eyes, in our increasing fatigue at any hour past 9:30 PM.  We don’t feel twelve-and-a-half very often anymore.

Then we look at our kids, at how they’re leaving childhood behind at breakneck speed, and we feel older, still–but also younger.  Older because, how did we become the parents of two teenagers and one who’ll be there in seventeen months (minutes)?  Younger because we’ve crammed a lot of living into thirty-eight years, and, Lord willing, there’s more to come.

So I’m trying to stay present in these actual moments instead of looking back too much, or worse, too far ahead.  Because before long, these hours will be replaced by something new.  And then something else after that.

And I will miss my grandmother, and the house that used to have kids living in it.