“Time makes you bolder. Even children get older. I’m getting older, too…” –Fleetwood Mac
When I was a kid, I never really understood why parents talked about us they way they did. Why all the attention? All the grown-ups used to say things like, “Oh, you’re so getting so big now!” and “I can’t believe how grown up you are now!” And blah, blah, blah… But now as I watch our own kids and their friends become men and women themselves, I catch myself saying exactly the same thing. How did that happen?
As a young parent, teaching them how to tie their shoes, watching them run around in the sprinkler and do normal kid stuff, intellectually you know it will someday eventually happen. But actually seeing it with your own eyes, in what seems like a blink of an eye, makes it a reality. Watching my first-born graduate college a few weeks ago was one of those “Is this really happening right now?” moments.
From the day he was born, it was a given that he would grow up, go to school and earn a college degree. There was no question. But as life progressed, there was a time when I wasn’t sure if, how or when it would even happen. But it did. And when it did, it was like watching a flashback of his life. As I watched the processional, in my mind I watched a slo-mo montage of all the snapshots of his life; from the joy of infancy to the freedom of toddlerhood, from the insecurity of grade school to the awkwardness of middle school, and from the trials and tribulations of high school to his drive and determination in college.
Funny how, as your children get older, their little victories turn into bigger accomplishments. And when their life events just couldn’t seem to get bigger, somehow they do. But just as important as seeing the great human beings our kids have become, it’s the path of their lives that gives us reason to celebrate. Whether it’s a straight line, and more often than not, a really curvy one, children provide us the juice of life. Whenever there is doubt, few could argue, they are what make life worth living. Most times, they are the reason why we do anything, and everything.
I saw it in my mother’s eyes after my son’s graduation as she patted me on the shoulder and said with a knowing smile, “Good job.” At that moment, I realized the day not only signified achievement for her grandson, but it was also my little triumph as a mother, and hers as my mother and his grandmother. After all, so much of who we are is because of our families: our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. We wouldn’t, and really couldn’t, be who we are today without them. They in turn, would feel lost without us.
The only thing that holds more weight than all that stuff in our mind is the unparalleled love we hold in our hearts for our children. There is no greater love that exists in the human experience. It makes sense then, why we goo over our children from the second they come into this world until our last breath. They are not only the biggest leap of faith into the vast uncertainty of the unknown, but also simply, the greatest gifts of our lives.