Monday, January 7, 2013

Of Growing Up and Empty Nests

I have always enjoyed helping my children learn new things and have new experiences. Sometimes this presented a problem. When my oldest son started falling out of the crib (to the hardwood floor) because of repeated attempts to climb out of the crib, I reasoned it was far safer to teach him to climb out safely than to nurse bruises. A few hours of instruction, he had it figured out. Trouble was....he could then climb out of the crib (read, he could not be contained)! Duh!

I decided I would enjoy my children's growing up as much as possible. I knew women who wept at every growth event from the first haircut to the first day of school, they complained that it was so hard to watch their children grow up. I didn't find it hard, I loved it! I did work hard to enjoy the moments and try to remember them, but I was always thrilled for their new experiences.

One sweet friend cried the day her son turned 12 and could no longer sit with their family during church, because he was fulfilling his Priesthood duties. She wanted to know how I 'did it' (my boys were older). I explained that I saw it as a first step towards becoming a missionary, towards being a responsible young man. I loved watching them grow!

When Robert became ill, we worked hard at enjoying our moments together and with our families whenever possible. I think the attitude served us well, as we tried to plan activities together that would allow us to make memories. If I had spent the time being sad over the potential loss, I am certain much of the joy of those moments would have been lost. We were very aware of our situation, we just chose to focus on the joys of the moment.

That's what happened last summer, as my adult married kids had made plans to attend a family reunion for their Dad's family in the Pacific Northwest. They also planned to visit my sisters and mother while they were there. My mother hasn't seen many of my Grandkids, so I wanted for all of them to have the time together. But, Robert was ill. Well, ok, Robert was dying. My kids were worried. They didn't want to leave us, but they didn't want to miss the opportunity to see the rest of their family, either. We said to them, "Go!" We wanted them to have the time with all of our family.

We prayed that somehow we could have some good experiences before they left. And those prayers were answered in an amazing way as little miracles collided to allow us to have a large family gathering in our home (Robert had been released from the hospital, but was too ill to travel), the weather that day (July, Phoenix) was a perfect 70 degrees! All of that meant that our children and grandchildren as well as one of Robert's nieces and her family (I think we counted 37 people) could all gather in our (tiny) house and because of the beautiful weather, they could spill over into the yard and have a wonderful party together. It was a sacred moment to treasure. we counted it as one of our miracle days.

The next day, my children left for their trip north. They spent sweet time with my mother in Washington, and then while they were in Oregon, they saw their great-grandmother for the last time (she passed away last month). Beautiful photos of her with my grandchildren (most of whom she was meeting for the first time ever), are precious memories of their experience...I was happy they had the experience, even though that meant they could not be close to me at a difficult time. I do not regret it one bit! I hope they don't either! For the record, the video of my sweet grandchildren singing to me via FaceTime on the evening that Robert passed away is as sweet as any memory of that day. I would much rather see my loved ones have precious experiences, make amazing memories together and to see them learn and grow than to keep them all to myself forever. After all, in the eternities, they will not be tiny children. They will be prepared for eternity by the experiences I have encouraged them to have on this earth. How can I be sad about that?

So here I am, one of my children has accepted an offer of employment which will mean he will move his family to a far away place. I am excited for their adventure! It will mean good things for them. Then again, it also means they won't be a ten minute drive away any more. Duh!

Ok, I guess I'll cry a little about that. Right after I make sure some of my Grandkids get a turn to spend the night at Grandma's before they move away.

And if I could
I would
Ask time to stand still
So I could hold you a little longer
I'd make the minutes stop
So we would always have today
I won’t let the sun go down
Until you know how I feel
I love you so much
I wish time could stand still.
(- Hilary Weeks)

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