It’s Friday morning, my day off, and I’m sitting outside at Rembrandt’s, one of my favorite spots in Chattanooga. The temperature has finally dropped below 90, the birds are singing and a breeze is gently blowing. The coffee is hot and it’s a great time to reflect on things flowing through my mind.
As I sit here, there is conversation going on all around me. Most of it I don’t hear, or at least don’t comprehend, but there is one family sitting at one of the tables closest to me that I can’t help but notice. It’s a middle-aged couple sitting with a young man having coffee together.
After a couple of minutes, it becomes clear the young man is preparing to begin college and the parents are preparing to say goodbye. I don’t know where they are from, but it’s clear they don’t live here. There is a sense of excitement in the conversation, especially as the young man is talking about this new chapter in life, but overshadowing that are clearly mixed emotions lingering softly over the table. It’s something that I’m beginning to instinctively pick up on. Perhaps that’s why I can’t pull my attention away from them.
As the mother gets up to go inside, it’s time for Dad to encourage his son to “call your mother at least every Sunday. She needs to know that you’re thinking about her.” I find it interesting that he only said call your mother because a few minutes later when the boy also went inside for one reason or another, I could have sworn I saw the glimmer of a tear in his eyes. Unmistakably, there was pain on his face.
It’s hard to deal with…children growing up and moving through stage after stage of life. It seems as though we don’t have time to adjust to one that they’re already moving into the next, one series of painful joys after another.
Maybe I’m thinking so much about this because I’m moving through yet another with Jacob. For the last two days, I’ve ridden to his new school with him…in his own car…driving. Wow, how could this little boy already be at this stage of life! Somewhere along the line I blinked and found he is not so little anymore. As he, himself, pointed out yesterday morning with a smile as he tied his shoes on the steps getting ready to leave for the first time in his own car: “Wow, Dad. It doesn’t seem that long ago that you were teaching me how to tie my shoes.” Now, I’m teaching him how to drive on his own.
I can’t even write this without feeling the lump in my throat. With every passing day, I’m experiencing the series of heart-aches I know my own parents went through, usually without my ever being in tune with enough to make it easier for them. Heart-ache that never really goes away. How could it? Your kids are always your kids.
So, it’s the mist of mixed emotions gently floating above that table that I identify with. It’s painful to think of your kids growing up so fast, but it’s so amazingly gratifying to observe…and maybe even play a small part in…the development of their wings. I’m so grateful to God for giving me two wonderful, talented and loving boys and the privilege to pour my life into and do all I can, through His power, to instruct them and nurture them, to correct them and train them in learning how to fly.