There were times, when my children were very small, that I dreamed of the time when they'd be old enough to do things for themselves. I remember the crazy days of having a 2-year-old and a newborn, feeling like a one-armed paper hanger. Or there was the time when I finally got a cell phone--only for emergencies, of course!--because I needed to drive across five states with a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, and and yet another newborn. Those days of feeling a little overwhelmed seem so close in my memory.
The other night my husband and I went out for a special date and our 16-year-old promised to babysit for our 10-year-old. "Wonderful," I thought. (It really is so nice not to have to line up babysitters any more.) What I hadn't reckoned with, though, was that my husband had arranged for our 16-year-old, a proudly licensed driver with a car at his disposal, to take our 10-year-old out to eat and to see a movie. I mean they went out to a proper restaurant--one where you have to order and leave a tip for the waiter--and then on to the movie.
A little bit of my heart went out the door with them that night.
Very vividly now does a scene come back to me. I was visiting my mother when my oldest child was just three weeks old. We took the baby for a walk in his stroller, and as we walked, my mom told me that I should savor the moments of his babyhood. "Turn around," she said, "and he'll be leaving." Then she quoted one of those sweet Kingston Trio songs she always loved:
Where are you going, my little one, little one?
Where are going, my baby, my own?
Turn around, and you're two
Turn around, and you're four
Turn around, you're a young girl
Going out of the door.
At that point I still had the swollen tummy of a new mother, and I could hardly imagine fitting back into my skinny jeans, much less having that little baby big enough to leave. So I did a pirouette on the sidewalk and giggled at my mother. She just gave me one of those wise smiles and said, "Wait and see."
My mother has long since gone on to heaven. I wonder if she could see me that night as I watched my babies going out of the door. I wonder if she was saying "I told you so."
"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
At least I was wearing my skinny jeans.
"Turn Around," copyright 1959 by Harry Belafonte, Alan Greene, and Malvina Reynolds