With age comes wisdom, but with wisdom comes the realization of concerns that never occur to a person during the bliss of youth.
When my kids were little, I loved every minute of my time with them. I often wanted to freeze the moment, loving this particular age. I came to realize that every single stage, every age, was just pretty magnificent.
As they grew, our home became the meeting place for all of their friends, and I am so happy to say it remains so to this day.
What I am finding is that now I worry about the much bigger things in their lives. Friends are finishing college, moving on in the world, and I find myself so excited and yet skeptical of the big world out there. Others, approaching their mid-20s, are choosing mates for life. In a few situations, I want to say, “Oh, honey….I know how this story ends.”
This was a wonderful holiday, spent around the table playing new board games and word games with my kids and their friends. The laughter and shouts of silly banter kept us all up late in to the night.
Between rounds, I would get the chance to catch up on where each is heading next. One sweet girl, like a daughter to me, is heading off to California to start her career in ag business. Another is heading for the Carolinas just the minute the ink is dry on her college diploma. I am so excited for each one, and yet I find myself fighting tears of joy tinged with anxiety as I watch them standing on the brink of a brand new life.
When life seems tough to handle, there is, thank goodness, a big old barn with my name on it. No reservations required.
No matter how cold, no matter the snow and blowing arctic winds, all is required is a pair of barn boots, a warm coat and gloves, a hat thrown on to keep the chill at bay, and the quiet of the barn offers the next best thing to getting away from it all to some far away place. I go there, still, to gather my thoughts, sort out my concerns.
When I was still a kid, having watched my three older sisters grow up and move on, I remember the holidays being particularly bittersweet. I would sometimes go out to the barns for a tranquil place in which to think.
It was impossible to put in to words, but I suddenly felt alone in the world without my big sisters surrounding me. Who could I turn to for simple, seemingly mindless, advice? I found myself worrying over nearly every little thing.
Now, here I am, all these years later, fighting that same heartsick, soul-searching type of sorrow multiplied by billions, feeling all the world as though every single person I ever cared about just up and flew the nest, joyously, leaving me all alone in the world.
I argue with myself over these feelings, as I want more than ever to watch them take flight, but I worry for their safe landings.
In the quiet of the barn, a snippet of a Bible verse came back to me, learned in my early childhood, about God’s concern for even the simple sparrow, reassurance that He cared for each of his children mightily.
While I watch my own two children and all of their friends moving on, sprouting wings of independence, I have to remind myself that we each stood in those precipitous shoes at one time. I need to rejoice for them, knowing that they have been raised well, a strong foundation of faith and loving kindness under each of those souls.
And I need to remind myself that worry never changed a thing. The story will find its own ending in so many chapters of our lives.
I just hope they all find their way back to share it with me.