I had an epiphany at about 12:30 am Thursday morning. Our sweet Jessica had gone to bed very early on Wednesday evening because she wasn't feeling well. She took a large bowl with her just in case. Around midnight she came into our bedroom having utilized her bowl and wanting help. She was so sweet. She is an amazing girl. I've never met anyone who will so acceptingly listen to coaching and suggestions without any defensiveness or push back. I love her so much. She was so grateful for my help at that early hour. She gave me a huge hug as I tucked her back into her freshly arranged bed.
As I was helping her, some of the usual thoughts went through my mind: "I'm exhausted. It's hard to be a parent. Etc." Then another thought went through my mind: "Assuming that Sophi remains our youngest child (I know, that's a bit of an assumption when you're talking about our family, but stay with me here!) Again, assuming that Sophi is our youngest child, we have fewer child-rearing years ahead of us than we do behind us." That was a crazy realization. As just about any parent knows, when you're in these crazy years with young kids, it seems like that is the only reality that exists. You forget that you were once a child yourself, once a young, single person with few to no responsibilities. You forget that everyone reaches an empty-nest point at sometime in their life. You just assume that the wonderful, crazy, excruciating, exhilarating rush of today will be here tomorrow and forever.
In that moment of realization, I had two conflicting emotions. My first thought was, "There's a light at the end of the tunnel!" That was immediately followed by the thought, "Oh, PLEASE slow down!" Even just thinking about it as I type, my eyes are beginning to mist. What will I do when there is no Jesi at home to ask for help and reward me with hugs? What will I do when there are no boys asking, "Can you come play ball with us for just 5 minutes?" How will I cope with no make-believe plays being simultaneously written and acted out in our living room? It will be hard.
How grateful I am for an eternal companion whom I love more than anything. There will be a challenging transition period, I am sure. But the thought of having much more time to spend with my sweet wife is a beautiful one. One thing I hold onto is this. So far, every stage of my life has been better than the last. My two- and three-year-old Taylor and Parker are gone, but I certainly wouldn't go back there and give up the 14- and 13-year old versions! I was once single and care-free, but I wouldn't dream of going back to those days. With the exception of the increasing fragility of my body, age and time have brought me increasing joy with each passing year. What a blessing this life is!
So for now, I'll continue to enjoy the ride. And I'll move forward with faith that when this particular roller-coaster comes to a stop, there will be another, even better experience on the horizon.