Since having kids, I have been amazed at how many complete strangers go out of their way to stop and admire the kids, hold a door open for me as I push the stroller through or stop and reminisce about when their own kids were little like mine. I often hear the advice, "Enjoy every moment, they grow up in a hurry." I recently had some one tell me this and it resonated with me in a much different way.
We had gone to Chili's after church one Sunday. Jim and Luke sitting on one side of the booth, Jacob and I on the other and Sarah at the end in the high chair. I had noticed during lunch there was a mom and teenage daughter sitting at the table across from us. Hoping they weren't annoyed at the typical chaos that comes with eating out...Jacob and Luke loudly carrying on, Sarah dropping everything imaginable on the floor and letting out a yell every now and then, Luke knocking over his drink and making a mess...I glanced over only to find them looking and smiling, as if they understood.
As we got up to leave, the mom stopped me and first complimented our family and the kids. She then said she and her daughter were talking about how much our family reminded them of their own. I asked the daughter if she was the youngest and she said yes and that she has two older brothers. The mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said "My daughter is going off to college this year. Just enjoy this time with your kids. Before you know it, they will be grown and gone. Enjoy this time with them." She said it with such meaning. And of course I was teary eyed myself at this point. And for some reason this conversation and her advice has stuck with me. It's as if I can see that being Sarah and myself years from now, giving that same advice to a young family.
I think her advice has stuck with me for many reasons. One being the emotions I'm feeling with Jacob starting Kindergarten next week. How can it be that Jacob is almost six years old and time to enter the next phase of his life. I know starting Kindergarten and going off to college isn't an apple to apple comparison. But I have to imagine the emotions a mother feels of somewhat having to "let go" in some small way is the same. It has made me think a lot about Jacob, how much I have enjoyed our time together and how very thankful I am that I chose to spend these first years with him. As hard as some days can be, I really have tried to truly enjoy this special time with him.
With the first day of school being less than a week away, I've been thinking about what this means for Jacob, for me and for our family. It makes me wonder, hope and pray that we've taught him what he needs to know to make it in school...respect for adults, the Golden Rule, doing the right thing...have we instilled in him a strong enough foundation to be the kind of kid I know he can be? I sure hope so. I know the joys, heartaches, friend/social drama, and other struggles that all kids face in school are ahead of him in the years to come. Although he has been in preschool for three years, there is something that feels really different about him starting in the public school system. You better believe I will be showering him with prayers each morning, more so than usual.
It's hard to believe the time has come for our sweet boy to start school. The years really do go by in a hurry. The saying, "the days are long but the years are short" really is so true to me. On particularly hard days, I find myself thinking of that familiar advice I so often hear, "Enjoy every moment with your kids, they grow up in a hurry."