Last Friday night found me driving with a car of sleeping kids, caravaning north for a short weekend away. It has been longer than I can remember since I have been putting midnight highway miles behind me. As Friday melted into Saturday I was taking a trip down memory lane. Without anyone to protest my choice of music I had chosen John Denver in a moment of nostalgia. The very music my dad would listen to as we headed away on summer adventures. The very music I would have been squawking about having to listen to from the backseat once upon a time. But it just seemed right and I could still sing every word and with those words and midnight miles, and I am sure sleep deprived delirium, there was a storm of crashing emotions.
The days they pass so quickly now
Nights are seldom long…
The changes somehow frighten me
Still I have to smile…
For though my life’s been good to me
There’s still so much to do
So many things my mind has never known*
This summer is flying by in a blur of sports and laundry, camps and mowing, and stolen weekends away like the one we were headed on. And the changes? They are numerous, but the most recent is that we have a new driver in our house. Parents who have been through this, why didn’t you warn those of us journeying behind you that the view from the passenger seat with a teenager driving is such a terrifying thing?!
This very weekend we were traveling with our kids friends in tow, leaving my husband and I staring at each other, saying, “Now what?” It’s just us, left in the dust on the sidewalk, as the kids walk on ahead, laughing and tumbling all over each other. We headed to the lake without the mountain of sand toys and shady pop-up beach tents. (They still made fun of me for all the bags I had packed although no one was complaining when they were eating the food!) We haven’t had a vacation like this ever and it’s beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.
We are also quickly hurtling towards a school year where elementary school is in the rear view mirror and we have begun discussions of what to do after high school. The “what I want to be when I grow up” talk. ARGH! But now it’s for real, not dreamy astronaut wishes and I think this talk may be one of the worst.
But there is still so much to do. There is so much I want to be sure they know and bury in their hearts. We are working so hard to pass on the legacy of faith and family that was gifted to us. And that’s why, as I listen to John Denver, I just pray that what we’re teaching is sticking. That although they may not always appear to be listening or watching or liking it, I pray that they are getting it.
I just want to gather my kids and all of their friends and keep them here for just a little bit longer. I want to press pause on summer and spend more late nights laughing with them. I want more afternoons on the lake without schedules to stick to. I want more evenings of grabbing ice cream and walking behind them on the sidewalk. I have read the articles about raising kids and letting them go and they make me cry. I have read the lists of things you should do and shouldn’t do, the debates on the best practices for discipline and they are all valid, all important. I am not an expert (or even close as I confessed in “My kids are doing a really good job of raising themselves.”) and I am not going to impart advice other than to say, just love them. Listen to them, share life with them and pray that in doing so one day they will look back knowing that it’s the little things that helped shape them into the people that they have become.
I continued to drive and ponder the words of John Denver, thinking about my parents and my grandparents, thankful for all that they gave and taught, for their influence and the gift of memories, in this place of the past and the future crashing around in my head…
And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
What about tomorrow
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share…*
Here’s to enjoying what’s left of summer, dreaming of the future and taking some time to remember!
*Poems, Prayers, and Promises, John Denver