Being a parent – I hate the word parenting – is an experience of not being to see the forest for the trees. When the kids are old enough to enter activities, you want them to try their hands at new things and experiences. Couple that with more than one child and toss in homework and friends and life becomes a blur. Who has to be where and at what time? What’s the deadline on this project or that exam and again, would you please explain to me how we came to have three girls spending the night in the basement? You’re running at high speeds in a forest and while you might get smacked by the branches of the occasional foulup, you work hard to avoid running into a trunk that could drop you flat on your back. It’s a breathless experience in the moment and more than a little nervewracking.
But there are moments when you can step back and take stock and when you do, you recognize that the forest is beginning to thin out. There are still plenty of trees to dodge but there are more spots of dappled sunlight on the ground and an instant more breathing room before you have to swerve to the left or right to avoid the next trunk. This occurred to me this evening as I waited for Youngest at his baseball practice, an event far enough from the house that it makes no sense to just drop him off and return later. Middle had a night off from any activity and Eldest had gotten a ride to soccer from a friend. While it’s the norm for overlapping activities, Eldest takes her driver’s test next week and will be able to start driving herself, freeing me from having to worry about how to get her there or home. I’ll still worry about her driving, but that’s suddenly a bit of relief from the taxi-servicing. To bring the point home more emphatically, she also commences on the college open-house tour with her mother next week and in a year, the forest around me will be thinned by all that much more.
I spoke last week with a gentleman who’s firm has done multiple home projects for us over the years. He has three sons of his own and the youngest is a lacrosse player in his junior year of college and as we chatted, he commented that he and his wife now treasure each of those games. He recognizes that there are only a relative handful left over the next two seasons and then, that aspect of his life will have ended after roughly two decades of practices, games and tournaments. His forest is now an open grove and ahead of him is open field, free of the obstacles that cause us to react more than act. At a rural baseball field surrounded by copses of trees and pastures, his commentary plucked a particularly melancholy chord in my soul. The tone resonated and on reflection, I decided that as this multiple-sport season progresses, I’ll have a greater appreciation for the beauty of this forest in which I find myself.