Perhaps it’s because my oldest just got home from his second year at college. Perhaps it’s because last week my middle son turned seventeen. That I can hardly believe. Or maybe it’s because this week is Mother’s Day. Whatever the reason, I’m feeling quite nostalgic.
The other day I was remembering when the kids were young. Back then, they thought I was smart. (Those days are gone.) My children used to look at me as more than an ATM. They thought I was funny. Ok, so my jokes are only funny to young children, but I once made milk come out of my son’s nose. They didn’t used to say I was old back then, and I also wasn’t carrying the weight of an extra person around my waistline. I saw a picture of myself at a resent family event and wondered why no one was trying to free me from my holding tank.
Whatever the reason, old memories of times now long gone started coming to mind. Like when our oldest couldn’t walk very far, so I would carry him on my shoulders. I even fell once and broke my ankle, because as we fell I pulled him on top of me so he wouldn’t get hurt. One time I got too far ahead of the rest of the family and some friends when we were riding our ATV’s. When my oldest and I realized everyone else had stopped we turned back. When we found the others, the look on my younger son’s face was priceless. He had launched his ATV off the road and wedged it between a boulder and a tree. He was so shaken that we put him on the back of someone else’s ATV and let one of our friends drive his. And lest you think all my memories are of accidents, there was the time I took my daughter to the father-daughter dance at our local YMCA. She was so excited; she smiled the whole night.
Of course, even as we were making great memories we were also going through tough times. Both of our boys were born two months premature, and they spent the first month after birth in neo-natal intensive care. My wife was on bed rest for the last six months of her pregnancy with our daughter. Our oldest went through eleven surgeries over the years to try and offset the effects of cerebral palsy. We moved three states away from both sets of grandparents. By the way, I don’t recommend you do that to your wife.
Our life isn’t even close to over. Well, maybe I need to qualify that. I know full well that I am not in control of how much time I am given. Only God knows that. Even so, God wiling we are somewhere in the middle of our time on earth. So how can I smile and be thankful in the mist of the battles of life?
I think it comes down to understanding our ultimate purpose in all of our hard times. Several of our son’s surgeries really set him back. He would be able to do things like walk a little distance, or he would start developing good muscle tone. Then after surgery he could no longer walk, or his legs would atrophy back to skinny little twigs. But we understood why he had to have the surgery. He had reached a plateau and was not going to get any better without the adjustments. Sure it would take him a while to get back to where he was before, but then he would be able to go further. It feels like being in a maze; sometimes you reach a dead end and have to go back to find the right path.
There have been some really hard moments. I won’t deny that. But it’s these experiences that have brought us to this moment. I am sure that hard times are ahead. For goodness sake, I’m a parent of multiple teenagers! We can pretty much bank on hard times! One thing I know, however, is that they will be used for our good. God told us so (see Romans 8:28), and I just got of a glimpse of what He has done so far.