It’s a Milestone Monday of sorts at our household. Today at 7:45 I’ll be dropping off our four kids for their first day of school. That may seem ordinary but it’s not the start of just another school year for us. This year is a bit more special.
14 years down.
4 more to go.
Four more years until…
…she likely moves out for the first time.
…she doesn’t regularly join us at the dinner table.
…she isn’t in our home church each and every Sunday.
…she really learns what it’s like to depend on herself.
…we face the college tuition bill (oops, sorry…that’s a tangent of thought for another day).
I used to not care about this stuff. When she was two, high school and college seemed so distant. I’d find myself in circles of older parents who would say, “Cherish these moments because it will fly by so quickly.” I’d politely nod at their exhortation and think, “Sure, sure…I won’t miss anything.”
Now I wonder where all the time has gone. Why did it happen so fast? How can it be 14 years since my first child was born?
Ironically, now I’m the older parent sharing the value of cherishing time with those just getting started on the journey.
Everything Has Its Time
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted…” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Much like money, time is a commodity of limited supply. We only have 24 hours in a day. No more and no less to accomplish whatever tasks we deem important.
Those 24-hour days build into weeks and months, becoming seasons of our lives. What we often neglect to understand as the months and years spin by is that every season we experience, no matter how short or how long, serves a purpose. That’s why people look back on their life at the end with regret. They failed to grasp the importance of each season and live it out with purpose and conviction.
Fourteen years ago my wife and I entered the planting stage for the first time. As new parents we vowed to do everything possible to nurture the young life God blessed us with. We’d take our cue from the gardener who supervises the environment, making sure the plants receive enough water and sunshine to thrive. Pull the weeds that choke out the plants and sprinkle in a dash of Miracle Grow at just the right time and who knows the quality of harvest one might reap.
Cynical parents would tell me that nurturing in the early days mattered very little. “Just wait until the teenage years,” they’d say. “Then things will be different.” Something about that didn’t sit right with me. Why would I put in all the work when they are young only to have them rebel when they hit 13? It seems like the more attention you put into any endeavor the greater likelihood it has to be successful.
So I put my hopes in that thought…and Kim and I worked really hard at parenting. Books…classes…Bible studies…support groups…being home when it counted…you name it.
Has it been perfect? No.
Do we have issues? Of course.
Will there be teen-stuff in the next few years that’s challenging? Probably so.
But I can tell you this so far…I’m really pleased with the quality of our crop. And I’m having more fun the older our kids get.
Cherish Every Moment of Your Life
I hope you read between the lines today – past the simple example of me being a proud parent – into the deeper subject matter, which is cherishing every moment you’ve been given. It’s vital to do so because the seasons of life come and go like the wind. I couldn’t have imagined writing a post like this one 14 years ago. Yet here I am entering the final stages of my first-daughter-living-at-home season.
No matter the breadth or intensity of each season, we cheat ourselves when we don’t make the most of it. That’s why I’ll eagerly be cherishing as many moments as possible during the next four years.
Questions: How do you parents feel about how quickly time moves? Anyone else experiencing the “I can’t believe my child is this old” syndrome? How do you cherish/maximize the time you’ve been given? What are you looking forward to in the next four years?