My wife Lori and I wrote the following thoughts (hers are in italics) when our children were 10, 8, 6, and 1. Now our oldest two are married and live in different states. Our third daughter is in college. And the one-year-old is a sophomore in high school. It really seems like yesterday when we wrote this.
Someday when the kids are gone, Lori and I will not have to share our Ben and Jerry’s double fudge and chocolate almond ice cream. All the chocolate chip cookie dough will be mine. I will no longer be disappointed when I open the cookie container to find cookies replaced by crumbs.
During dinner there won’t be any complaining about the food. No one will refuse to eat, or “gag” when required to try one bite. The conversation topics will be other than discussing and demonstrating proper etiquette. We will no longer be answering questions on every thinkable and unthinkable subject. The “why did the chicken cross the road?” joke will be banned from dinner conversations (at least until grandkids).
Someday when the kids are gone, I will never watch “Where the Red Fern Grows” again. Although the setting is Oklahoma, the story has lost its appeal after a hundred viewings. After the kids are gone, it will not look like it “snowed” popcorn when the movie is over. Cleaning under the cushions of the couch will no longer be like taking a trip to Toys “R” Us.
My refrigerator will no longer temporarily change into a freezer because the temperature knob “mysteriously adjusts itself.” While cooking dinner, I won’t be playing Barbies, building Lego models, coloring a picture, assisting in homework, giving spelling tests, supervising music practice . … and I won’t be asking everyone to pick up their backpacks, pick up their toys, wash their hands, take off their muddy shoes, leave the rocks and bugs outside. … My kitchen table will not have to be constantly cleared of school papers to review or homework papers to be done.
Someday after the kids are gone, the house will no longer be like walking through a mine field. Sharp objects like “Legos” and American Doll furniture will not cause cries of pain when I walk barefoot across a darkened room. Big objects like metal trucks and American Doll furniture will not stop my unprotected toes in midstride.
My laundry will no longer be the “monster” that it has become. My stain removal technique that is being perfected will no longer be in such demand. No longer will I open the washer lid to find that the load has been “stone-washed” or “crayon-dyed.” Gum and candy will not be constantly attached to the inside of my dryer. All my hangers will be the same size.
Someday when the kids are gone, my desk at home will again belong to me. There will be a place for me to sit and work, without first having to take a wheel barrow load of school papers, Sunday School projects, Pioneer Club papers, past due activity registrations… to the trash (then feeling guilty that I did not file them away to look at and cry over in ten years). I may even update my paper weight. Now it is a sand-filled baby food jar with a wooden heart glued over the Gerbers logo. A VBS project, I think.
Someday my stuff will be where I put it. My best pair of scissors will not be used for cutting everything imaginable. They will not “disappear” and then suddenly reappear after the spring thaw. My sewing table will not resemble a miniature “Good Will” bin. It will no longer be the “Lost and Found” center of our home. “Hey, Mom, I can’t find my swimming goggles.” “Have you looked on my sewing table?”
Someday when the kids are grown, there will actually be a spring and summer evening we are not at a Little League game. I will not volunteer to coach a sport I know absolutely nothing about (soccer) just because they need a coach. I will find things to do other than snickering at preschoolers as they attempt to kick a ball with the inside and outside their left foot. I will talk about subjects other than Red League girls’ softball. I will not stay up late debating who should pitch and who should play third.
I won’t be spending frantic minutes before games looking for shin guards, batting gloves, baseball mitts, uniforms, or hats. I won’t do any last minute ironing of Pioneer Club badges or frantically check the calendar to see if I missed my night for snacks.
Someday when the kids are gone… we already dread it. But when that inevitable day comes, we will have our memories. Memories of first words and first steps. Long trips in small cars. “Crabbing” and cooking the crabs. Fishing but not wanting to kill or clean the fish. Camping and forgetting the matches to light the lantern. Bicycle rides and wrecks. Long nights holding sick babies. Long days in the hospital with a very sick six week old. Emergency room stitches. Losing a four year old at a crowded school during an open house. Nicknames only our family will ever know and appreciate. Family devotions that challenged our patience and theology. And many more memories, some which will make us laugh with great joy, and some which will make us cry with deep pain.
Lord, we need your help. We are busy, imperfect parents doing our best, but seldom feeling we have done enough. Give us your focus, your perspective, and your wisdom during these hectic days of raising children. And when the time comes when their car is packed and we kiss them good-bye, although our eyes will be filled with tears, may our hearts be filled with your peace … and no regrets. As we turn to walk into our empty house, may it be filled with memories we have taken time to make and may we know that you have built our home.
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