The march of parental sappiness continues, dear friends. Oh, how I am savoring this house full of kids these days. There must be a way for them to both go soon, and stay forever.
I firmly believe we raise kids to leave us. I want them to go. I want them to sail off on their own adventures, to find their place in the world’s story, to craft their own careers and families and communities. I cannot wait to see what they will do.
But then – I won’t hear them laughing together in the next room. I won’t be able to demand daily hugs – not even the awkward teen “side hug” that avoids full contact. When we watch a movie, our MacGyvered sectional, with the armrest cover picked apart and ironed onto that cushion that got worn from five kids sitting on it, won’t feel cozily crowded with seven of us simply sharing the same space together, breathing the same air. There won’t be road trips with the van crammed to the gills with people and pillows, Dunkin Donuts and Doritos. There will not be moonlit walks where I don’t even need to say anything beyond “really” or “field-programmable gate array, you say?” as one of five delightful young people pours out ideas. We won’t all be together the way we are now.
So it’s the season for savoring a houseful of kids. When frustrations come, like broken piles of Nerf guns in the living room or sibling-induced hysteria, let us remember that these too are fleeting. When you think I’m torn too many ways by the needs of too many kids, let’s remember just how precious you all are and how diminished our family would be without any single one of you. Maybe Garrison Keillor said it best: “Life is flowing . . . like ketchup on a bun.” Let’s enjoy these last years together before you go off and make your own rich and beautiful lives.
Today, I give my whole self to parental sappiness. I’ll remember that these sappy feelings really are a gift. They are a reminder to savor the last, delightful moments together as a family before the kids go off into the world with our blessing. I’ll let the kids know that while I don’t need or want them to stay here with us forever, they are cherished and loved, and their sparkling personalities will always bring us joy. Go off, kids, and live in the world – but please do come home when you can. This house just won’t be the same without you.