I just returned from attending my oldest son‘s White Coat Ceremony in dental school at Howard University in D.C., and it truly dawned on me that the years have quickly passed. Time has continuously and unapologetically shot forward. In fact, I find it frightening how time is skyrocketing forward, hardly allowing me time to savor the moments. I have another son in graduate school at Tuskegee, and I have concluded that it is very unlikely that my sons will ever come back to live here in Nashville because they are so independent. This is very difficult for my wife and me because a great part of our happiness revolves around being around our boys. So you can imagine that regardless of how busy we try to be to compensate for the lack of our children’s presence, there still seems to be an undeniable void.
Maybe we are different from some parents, because we really like and enjoy being around our boys and interacting with them.
Holidays are about being with immediate family, often at any cost, which can be difficult at times when separated by distance and impending schedules. I can only imagine what some married couple have to go through, especially during holidays, trying to figure out which family to spend a holiday with when their parents live in different parts of the country. Many children (like their parents) want to be together during the holidays, especially Easter, Thanksgivings and Christmas. Inability to come together may cause sadness or depression during what should be a happy time.
Sometimes I have to catch myself and ask for forgiveness for being so selfish when I think of all the times we have been blessed and afforded time together as a family. I think of my boys’ births, bringing them home from the hospital, their first steps, preschool, kindergarten, birthday parties, outings, sports, church activities, vacations, proms, teaching them to drive, academic growth, life talks, graduations, plus so much more. Their happiness, achievements, pain, hurt, and life experiences are indelibly shared and felt by my wife and me.
I advise any parent to take many pictures and videos and enjoy watching their children go through the metamorphosis of young unadulterated innocence, to adolescence, to young adult. At times you may be anxious, hoping your child quickly grows up, offering you some breathing room to have more time for yourself. However, be careful for what you wish for while you are spending a great part of your life catering to your children. When they are grown and go away there can be a big empty void. For many people, nothing can take the place of personal, individual involvement in the lives of their children—good or bad. I guess you can thank God for cell phones and texting, which seems to help compensate for not seeing your child on a daily basis.
Create a mountain of memories to shelter and embrace you from the void the absence of your children may eventually bring, especially as they spread their wings and fly. Take solace in knowing they are a reflection of you. You are vicariously living through them, enjoying their successes as well as disappointments. Slow down and savor the precious moments, even the excessive noise and occasional disagreements as they grow, knowing eventually these are memories that will shelter you from the loneliness of their absence in future times.
Remember, it takes what seems like a few blinks and your young child is grown. Value the time between the blinks.