your days are short here

I have had Adlai Stevenson’s line about “your days are short here” in my head recently. I love his whole speech, in particular those last lines, and have written about them before.  But it’s specifically the notion of something drawing to a close that feels salient to me right now.

I can’t get the line out of my head.

Our days are short here.

There are surely fewer days with all four of us under one roof ahead than behind us.  So many years have gone, rippling behind us in a blur of bathtimes and walks and hockey games and car rides.  I’m so thankful for the details I’ve recorded, here and in my enormous photo albums, but still, there’s so much I wish I could do over again.  Of course I can’t, and that’s the very essence of life: you get one go around.  It’s in my essential wiring to be struck dumb by the heartbreak of that, but the flip side of that characteristic is, I believe, how fundamentally open I am to receiving joy and beauty in the most ordinary experiences.

Our days are short here.  This season, which broke open with a colicky newborn and a rainstorm in late October 2002, which felt, for so long, endless, is drawing to a close. Grace is almost my height and Whit is catching up fast.  They’re independent in so many ways, strong and opinionated and funny.  They can cook dinner for us, walk home from school and let themselves in, put themselves to bed.  I can see the adults they are becoming. I love them, a lot, but I also like them.

I considered a book project several years ago that focused on the “new season” of parenting kids in their adolescence.  The first paragraph was this:

In between conference calls last Tuesday I walked to the mailbox a few blocks from my house. I passed the park where I had strolled with both of my children, spent countless hours watching them learn to navigate the slides and then the monkey bars, coached micro-soccer on Saturday mornings for years. I looked at the mothers crouched in the sandbox and at the toddlers making their clumsy way around the structure and felt a pang so acute of all that was gone I had to stop and catch my breath. That time, when empty days without school or commitments unfurled in front of me, seems like another country. My children still play on playgrounds, but I know those days themselves are numbered.

Even that already feels like a different country of its own now!  I feel as though I have taken an extremely long flight and have lost track of what day it is.  I’ve emerged from the terminal into the bright light of a foreign land and I’m blinking into the sun, trying to get my bearings.  I am staring at empty nesters and children who are getting close to driving age.  All these years have through my fingers like so much sand, and no amount of grasping slowed their passage.

Tonight I’m struck by the sorrow of that, though I’m aware, also, of the deep, gorgeous, messy joys that have filled every day in the enormous gulf between my first days as a mother and now.

My days are short here.  And while my children still want to come sit next to me in bed to read,  I’m going to wholeheartedly enjoy it, trying not to wonder if it’s the last time.


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9 Comments

  1. Kathie
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Oh wow – this totally and completely resonates with me right this second. I am struggling with this now, a lot. All the time. Teary and befuddled on a constant basis.

  2. Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    needed this quote for my blog today — in sync once again!

  3. Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    This was beautiful today. Thank you.

    xox

  4. Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Lindsey. Oh, how this resonates. xo

  5. Posted February 15, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Increasingly, I realize that we only have a few more years with the kids at home. Back when they were infants, the day they left home seemed impossibly far away, but now it looms all too close. I have a hard time even imagining what it will be like to have grown children, and feel an irrational desire for them to stay young forever.

    Of course, I also know that the research says that on average, parents are happier after their children leave home, but statistics are small comfort when confronting one’s instincts.

  6. Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Hey Lindsey!

    It’s been a long time since I’ve visited and still love your writing. My youngest just turned 13, and my oldest is away at college the middle is 18 and, while still at home, definitely on her way out. A few years back when I was in the height of my blogging I really couldn’t understand the melancholy of my friends who missed their kids at home. I think maybe because mine were so problematic through their teens I thought I’d be happy to be done with parenting. Ah, silly me, there is no done to parenting, no stopping the worry. I miss my oldest something fierce which conflicts with my joy for all he is experiencing through his hard work. It’s complicated, so very complicated.

  7. Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful quote and I remember my final Spring as well though I graduated 35 years ago oh my goodness. I don’t know if this is any consolation but even though I loved so many times when my kids were little and have wonderful memories, I love the people they have become now that they are in their 20’s and I so enjoy the relationships we have now. It is different but it is wonderful. And there is something to be said for getting to the other side of the teenage years and letting go of some of the exhaustion and anxiety of wondering whether they will be ok because you see for yourself that yes they are fine and so are you. There is so much that is precious in each season of life so I would just say hang in there-there is much to look forward to.

  8. Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Perfect! Always insightful. Thanks for writing the words in my heart too as always xooxo

  9. Posted February 16, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    It is all so so so true. I can hardly remember being pregnant. Feels like that what another person. 🙁