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A Most Useful Triteness

“They grow up fast.”

So an older homeschool parent said to Hope and me as we started our two children in a homeschool program. This was the umpty-eleventh time this had been said and yet my heart skipped a beat.

My heart often skips a beat, arrhythmia being a family failing, but this was different. Somehow, this time, I knew this truism was true. As I write, decades later, it is true. I recollect that moment when now was prophesied.

My children, so small that candy and gum could solve all their unhappiness, would soon be gone. Candy and gum cannot solve their present problems and they have surpassed us in almost every area! (Thank God!) As the under-appreciated Disney classic, Happiest Millionaire, shows: soon only Christmas will have the hope of bringing them home.

My Mom had prepared me. She put a poem on the wall of our bathroom, often known as the “reading room,” that had this line “birds must fly or they would not have wings.” This poem was so obscure that when I decided to write about it, finding it was hard even with Google! There is some of this wisdom in Walt Disney (the genius, not the company) and his masterwork Mary Poppins

Kids have to go, they have to fly away, kite flying easy to schedule today will be hard tomorrow.

And here, on the other end of raising children, I know it to be true. They have grown, flown away, and however wonderful we made home (God help us for our failings!) they are finding their own way. We are not abandoned or forgotten, but parenting is done.

I could end here with an appeal to enjoy what you have if you are still a parent with younglings, but that is, perhaps, unneeded. If you will not heed Mr. Disney, who am I to warn you?

Instead, let me say this: I heard that hard word and both Hope and I acted on the truth when there was time. Whatever else we did, and God knows there are years of my life I wish I could relive, loving, living, learning with our children was important. Books did not get written so we could go to Disneyland. Did that mean fame escaped us? It did not matter. Projects were delayed, because one kid or another was always asking a question (Harry Potter, God, spiders, stuff) and those questions had to come first. We made mistakes, but due to the poem Mom put on the wall (love you Mom!) and that heart skip we lived in the knowledge of the privilege that was childhood.

Some wish to be parents and never are. Some of us are parents and ignore the moment until that joy has passed. God help us.

Stop.

Think about how fleeting this era is and enjoy childhood.

There is good news. My adult children are joyous friends. We can no longer solve their problems, but now, not so far away, they have become men and women that will be able to solve our problems. We stand in the youth of old age and realize that we are socially secure not due to the state, but to the character of our children.

Beyond that, we like to be with them, even when we disagree. Mayhap (who can be sure?) we will vote or not vote for different candidates, sing different songs, watch a spectrum of films, agree to disagree, but we will love each other as we have always done, but now as equal adults.

Birds must fly or they would not have wings, but once they fly, the trees are full of song. 

If your heart skips a beat, stop. Hear the word of the Lord and go hug your babies while you can. If you are, as we are, on the other side with an empty nest take joy that the world is full of a song that by God’s grace you had a part in teaching our children to sing. Take joy that, after all, it will not be long until Christmas.

And God help us, for those of us, who have children gone to Paradise, like our own Edmund Saint John Reynolds, realize that the Day is coming, inevitable as any truth, when all separation will be ended. All of us will come home to Father God and the holidays will never end. We will all fly to God, or we would not have had wings, and there nothing good will be lost and all good will be regained.

World without end.

Amen.