It happens before you know it and not because time flies. It’s because you are just in it, emersed day in and day out. You’re barely keeping your head above water and then with a slosh of cold waves, you open your eyes and you’ve drifted in with the tide onto the shore.
There’s no regret, none. I did this thing fully--imperfectly and completely. But still I can’t deny that with a deep sense of satisfaction and some relief, there also lingers a guttural melancholy. There’s a particular sense of sadness when a goodbye is permanent which throbs in my stomach when I sit still. An overarching sense that says, “This is right. It’s time to move forward.” reverberates through my bones, and yet my heart begs for one more day spent in pajamas and in celebration of first steps and words and discovery. One more day when the world is monotonous and new, routine and spontaneous.
Pride and gratitude swell in my eyes, teasing to spill down my face. Nothing is more prized in me than this messy work. This messy, unnoticed work of raising and loving and discipling. The messy work of cleaning and washing and fixing and changing.
The messy work of being changed by it all.
The enormity of the itty bitty years is behind me now. I thought I could see it coming on the horizon, this change, I had chosen the proper place and time when all would shift. But instead it went without permission on a day at a playground for a playdate we had outgrown. With empty arms and a too big boy climbing bravely and a week that had school happenings and work lists—it vanished. I couldn’t find it ahead of me and when I looked back it was so far behind me that it had a fuzzy screen of haze smudging out it’s fine lines.
How did this happen without me knowing it? How had I missed it? When did things change? I can’t mark a day, but there is no arguing that it happened nonetheless.
The new days in front of us are filled with joy and challenges and newness and discovery of their own. I know it sounds like I want to go back. I don’t want to go back. But this is how I say goodbye to that time, to the time that shaped me and chiseled me and made me better. This is how I say goodbye to the first kisses on a newborn nose. This is how I say goodbye to lazy mornings watching them play in diapers on the deck while the dew dried on the grass. This is goodbye to the first taste of ice cream, the first ponytail, to holding them until they fell asleep wrapped up in their blanket.
Goodbye old friend. And thank you.