Babies grow up.
It hit me the other day while I was playing music for a large private party and I heard a little girl about 7 or 8 years old call out excitedly, “Daddy, daddy!” I realized in that moment my little girl doesn’t do that anymore. And moreover, I couldn’t remember the last time she did.
It hit me like a fist to the stomach. I dearly loved those days. I know those young ages are tedious, time-consuming and completely overwhelming, but there is such an innocence and sense of marvel about life with young children. It is all the things I mentioned above but also mesmerizing and wondrous, rejuvenating and strengthening.
In contrast, these days I usually have to call out my daughter’s name several times, because she has her earbuds in. And when she answers, I’m reminded I probably fall more into the category of a nuisance or distraction rather than superhero daddy.
My son who recently graduated is a few weeks away from being 18, or as folks like to say, “a grown adult”. He has no problem growing a scruffy beard, having a job, hanging out with his friends, acting in plays. Seemingly gone are the days when they would climb up in my lap and seek comfort, shelter, or were just in need of a good cuddle.
Bad news sound so much better in French, doesn’t it?
“C’est la vie…”
Translated: “That’s life.”
It’s strange as parents because you know this time is coming, a part of you even longs for it to arrive, (especially when they are halfway through throwing a horrendous temper tantrum in the middle of a restaurant or grocery store,) and yet when it comes, you can’t help but be sad that somehow, quietly and invisibly, that part of your life has passed you by.
The good news however, is you start to see a light at the end of the tunnel. You see their blossoming futures, and the potential of them successfully launching into the next phases of their lives, and suddenly you see the grand pay off.
You will have time to be yourself again.
The titles Daddy and Mommy take a toll. It’s a joyful burden but a heaviness, nonetheless. And we tend to lose a bit of our playful selves, I think, having to play the role of “grown up” all the time.
Also, with the promise of only a couple of years left, you could see an increase in pay.
I could swear my daughter could drink her weight in fancy expensive coffee and my son could eat at a restaurant every night of the week.
As the kids get older, I think it’s important to steal moments. You literally have to take them because the opportunity for them to happen naturally decreases the busier their schedules get.
As a celebration for my daughter turning 16 and for my son graduating, I booked us a fun family trip. We packed in the car for a mid-week overnight stay in Nashville. We went to watch the singer-songwriter legend, Sting, formerly from the band The Police.
(side note for my musical homies…)
Listen, this dude is 70 years old and still rocking it like he’s in his thirties. Set was amazing mix of new and old. Band was amazing and he did not disappoint at all.
We all really enjoyed it, (because I raised them to know what good music is) but it reminds me, grown-ups don’t get to do this stuff very often. Busy schedules and jobs tend to take precedence over family activities.
When the kids were young, my wife and I always played a game we created called “The 10-Year Game.” Because if you’re over 30, you know how fast 10 years passes.
We did it when the kids were little, only 2 and 4. The times they were driving us crazy. We’d say, “But in ten years they’ll be 12 and 14!” And we laughed because it was so hard to imagine and so far away. But that time has come and gone in a blur of scraped knees, awards ceremonies, bicycle rodeos, vacations, staycations, birthdays and sweet memories.
Now when we play the 10-year game, the outlook is even more mind-boggling. We’ll have a 26-year-old and a 28-year-old!
Yes, in a way, the game is much less fun now.
We will have adult babies, and possibly even a grandbaby or two. Apparently, that’s how this thing called life works.
Oddly, I remember holding my son for the first time on the day he was born and genuinely, one of the very first thoughts that popped in my head was that it occurred to me that if my son had a child, it would make me a grandad someday.
And again, I say, “That’s life.”
I’m reminded all too often of those verses in the Bible that tell me we are like flowers of the field. I think to myself, “Oh, what a lovely field I have been planted in.” And as I look around and see you, your families, your beauties, all I can do is be grateful for the time that I’m given on this Earth.
On that thought, today is a good day to stop and smell the flowers.
Be Wonderful, Life is Now.
I wrote about these experiences in one of my songs off the album called, “The Folkster”. The song is called “Laughter and Tears”.
I’d love for you to take a listen to it. It’s on all the streaming platforms.
Put it on your summer playlist and travel around and enjoy it with your family if you like it.