The new good old days

It’s been so long I think I forgot how to write, or what to write.  But I guess sometimes you just have to go for it and write; type away and see what comes out. What’s coming out for me these days is a lot of reminiscing, looking at old photos and longing for the days when our whole family ate dinner together, then we tucked their sweet little faces into bed, like little burritos, by 8:00 and had time to hang out just Andy and me. Oh the days when my biggest worries were wondering if our kids would ever stop pooping their pants.

But the poopy pants stopped. The kids got older, one is now away at college, the next just got his driver’s license causing me to say all the prayers every time I watch him drive away in his beat-up ’85 Toyota truck which happens to be a stick shift.  God help us. We have to put a date on the calendar to have “family day” a month ahead of time. It’s a new season and new seasons are sometimes tough to get used to, actually forget that. New seasons are not fun, they hurt a little, and sometimes a lot. Makes me want to sit back in the good ‘ol days, rather than enjoy and appreciate what’s happening right in front of me; soaking in every moment. Although, the good ‘ol days were stinkier days.

School has started; a new year of elementary, middle, and high school, plus adding in college. So to say I’m on an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement. I can go from laughing and enjoying watching old episodes of The Office to tearing up when an old photo of one of the kids pops up on our computer. I’m fragile. And also, This Is Us started its new season, so I’m done for.

So Charlie just up and went to college and that is that. We moved him in a couple of weeks ago and here’s how it went down after we helped him unpack and set up his room:

“So where do you want to go to dinner?” says Andy to Charlie.

“Well, there’s a welcome dinner and meeting for my dorm tonight, so I’ll probably just eat there.”

“Okay, well how about Target? We can take you to get the extra stuff that you need?” me throwing out one more line, hoping he’ll grab.

“I have a gift card to Target, so I think Finn and I will just go later.”

“Do you want to walk us to the car to say goodbye at least?” Andy gives it one more try.

“……………………………..” nothing from Charlie.

“Let’s go. Our presence here is no longer needed, nor wanted.” I say to Andy, because I can take a hint after being shut down three times.

And there you have it. Time to spread his wings and fly.

In the months leading up to college, Andy had been telling everyone he was ready for Charlie to go, that it was time for him to grow up and figure out life on his own. I kept expressing how sad I was going to be when he was gone. No sooner than a a couple of hours after we got home, Andy asked if we should FaceTime with Charlie. Who’s the softy now, huh?

The truth is, Western Washington University is only a little over an hour away. Charlie could come home anytime, and we could drive up there just as easily. It’s not the amount of miles between us, but the way our family life is different. Teenagers are busy. They are in and out and seem to want to be out more than in. But late in the evening, when we plop down on the couch, exhausted from our day, we catch up. Sure, we turn on Netflix, usually The Office, but things happen during that time. Conversations about our day; school, faith, friends, and life, while Jim and Dwight play ridiculous pranks on each other in the background. Good times happen, sometimes magical, where we see huge smiles on their faces and do our best to answer life’s questions. These are the moments that I miss more than anything.

I realize we still have three kids at home and I am working on appreciating all of it. I’m working on letting go when I need to and holding on tight when they need it. Parenting is beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s the constant balance of when to intervene and when to let natural consequences have their way. I have to say, I truly love this season. We get to watch in the wings while our oldest becomes a man and figures out life on his own. We get to experience the terror, for the second time, of watching a kid drive away on his own. We get to remember back to our own awkward junior high days while our middle schooler tells us about the latest boy/girl drama. We get to watch our youngest try all the activities because she loves it all, including super hero movies that we never would have let her oldest brother watch at her age. It’s all rich. These are good times; where the stinky-ness has turned from baby poop to too much Polo cologne. I’ll take it.

Packing up and getting ready to go

Good bye hugs.

Yeah, we’re good. Bye.

 

A reminder of how they once were…