There are moments and evenings that help you see the forest for the trees, as I noted some time ago, and tonight was one of those instances. While things are busy with kids coming in and out – many of those who aren’t ours referring to my wife and I as "Mom" and "Dad" – you get a sense of where you are in terms of life and parenting.
The kids tonight were friends of Eldest who are all leaving for college within the next three days, while she still has a year to go. But the college visits are on the calendar and her own senior year is shaping up to be breathtaking in its rapidity. Middle was upstairs hogging the phone and as the school year approaches, I tucked Youngest in earlier and curled up with him for a little while. That’s now where we are – the eldest with only a year remaining before college and the youngest still asking to be tucked in, but those bedtime days are waning and soon, he’ll be big enough that he say goodnight and go up by himself and an almost two decade bedtime routine will be at an end.
There were times in those years that I couldn’t wait for that routine to end. Friends talked about this hilarious show called Everybody Loves Raymond and I could never quite get to the television before the final credits rolled and while there’s TiVo, it simply wasn’t the same thing. I never actually saw one of Ray Romano’s episodes until it was in its seventh or eighth season. Likewise, there were organizations that I didn’t join because of involvement with kid-related sports and scouting and geez, I couldn’t make a meeting because of X, Y or Z. Now that there’s far, far fewer bedtimes than ever before, I find that I’m going to miss them with their opportunities to giggle or chat with the kids, listen to them breathe as they nod off, or even just awakening slightly refreshed after snoozing myself.
My father used to remark that that’s the way it’s supposed to be and the guy was correct. Our job is to clothe, house, feed, teach and protect them until they’re able to begin to start taking on some responsibilities themselves; they’ll screw up – as we did – but they’ll improve and learn and eventually, we’ll be left once again to our own devices. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
In the press of things, remember to enjoy these days and keep some of them tucked away in your memory for later.
For Ray Romano, there’s cable and boxed sets of DVDs. For these days however, there are only the memories.