Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

     It's the last day of 2013 and I've so been enjoying not having to wake up at o'dark thirty or having to be on the go or on the road or just on. We've been having a wonderful Christmastime and I am not in any hurry for this break to be over.
       I really wasn't in any hurry for summer 2013 to be over. August was such a can we just stop the clock and be in this season right here for more than the fleeting moments it was feeling like? My two kids were rising Seniors . . . one in college and one in high school . . . and while my head was telling me that they are both on the brink of the new and exciting adventures that are exactly what we've been investing years and days and moments preparing them for, my heart was doing the 'this year begins the season when things will never be the same again' flip flop thing that Moms have been arguing with time over forever.
       Our summer family vacation took us back to a favorite spot, Ocean City New Jersey, in a sweet little bungalow within walking distance from the beach. I could have just stopped time right there and then. So many traditions created over so many summers there - from the lazy sun soaking hours to the crazy boogie boarding waves, night Monopoly marathons, bike riding mornings to strolling the boardwalk at night, eating pizza or protecting our fries from the far too brazen seagulls, riding the giant ferris wheel or the Scrambler, playing mini golf or skeeball and laughing about funny moments or special memories from the days when a curly headed little boy or a ponytailed little girl skipped alongside us, knee high or waist high or sleepily nodding off in the stroller. Smiling about the sweet memories. Thankful the days of cranky toddler meltdowns are over and these two tall long limbed siblings tote their own boogie boards and chairs and towels rather than us schlepping every single piece of baby and beach equipment known to mankind back and forth from home to house to beach to house to beach to house to . . . wait . . . as soon as we leave the Shore it will be time to schlep every single piece of technology, storage units and sports equipment known to college studentkind from house to car to dorm room to car to dorm room to car to . . .  So, some things never end.
       Yet the week at the Shore did. And with it came the end of the summer and the beginning of two Senior years. Senior years that will usher in a new season of life. Senior years that I am trying to remember to both celebrate and grieve all the 'lasts'. The last first day of school. The last moving in to dorm (on one campus at least). The last shopping trip for the Homecoming dress. The last fall Jazz Ensemble concert. The last Candlelight Concert. Sigh.
      And because my mother-in-law is selling the family farm, the last post Thanksgiving dinner sitting around the table compiling Christmas shopping lists, the last heading out even before o'dark thirty to enjoy what's been a traditional sister in law and eventually daughters and nieces in tow great black Friday together, the last cousins packing into the big room all the way upstairs, the last cutting down another beautiful Shellenberger grown Christmas tree . . .
     And in the midst of these two senior year goings on, we were up to our eyeballs with all things Beauty and the Beast. For of course, it wasn't enough for us to do our favorite show for our last mother daughter team middle school musical together. We had decided to also submit our show for a main stage performance at the PA State Thespian Conference 6 weeks before our usual school performance time. Now that its over I can happily say that my 'darling idiots' pulled off a fantastic performance receiving many compliments from the audience of mostly high school students and their directors. Every time in the months leading up to the Conference that I panicked over something I was sure would never come together God met me with someone or something to meet that need, as if to say, "Don't worry. I've got this." And I simply don't let myself think too long about the fact that unless I tie her up and gag her instead of sending her off to college, this show is quite possibly the last one my daughter and I will create together.
     This pouring your life into roots and wings for these little people who insist on growing up is indeed so very bittersweet. While I am very excited to see what God has for my son and my daughter, I often wonder if I have done my job well enough, if I have taught them everything I should have. I do not miss the 2 a.m. feedings, changing diapers or the battle of wills with toddlers who could dig their heels in deep. I smile remembering a hand so little it held mine by wrapping all fingers around my extended one as we walked out to the mailbox. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk and basketball in the driveway. Training wheels and Hot Wheels and in a heartbeat 4 wheels on a little red car parked in the driveway for what might be the last Christmas Break home for this many days. Who knows where that little red car will be parked next year? How far away will the church be smart enough to hire this tall, curly headed man with the heart for God and relating with His young people?
     I know this is what raising children is all about - preparing them as best as we possibly can, for their own lives in their own homes in their own corner of the world. And no I really wouldn't want them to spend the rest of their lives with us, in their rooms or the proverbial basement apartment. I remember how excited I was for my first teaching job and my first apartment. To be out on my own, learning how to put into practice what I'd spent years growing up to become. I wouldn't want this urge in my mother's heart to keep them here, at home, in this family life that we've been weaving together to prevent them from having their chance to stretch their wings and fly. To become all that God has always meant them to be from the instant their lives began.
      So I'll do my best to savor both the everyday moments and the major, memorable lasts and see if maybe, just maybe, pushing down on the top of my perched on the edge of the nest beloved children's heads, maybe just maybe, it will slow down their growing up just a bit.
       Just don't blink.