Maybe the long, firm hug, the glassy eyes, and the tears spilled said it all.
On one hand it was easy to laugh about, and yet on the other, it was the most real and recently-reoccurring emotion. One that most parents of growing children – those who actually parent – struggle with, I’m sure.
We were doing a good deed. We gave our kids’ swing set to a young family around the way. A swing set that brought immediate shouting, laughing – and departing tears to the new children. They were in. The swing set hadn’t really been used much in the past few years. It was one that was in danger of falling into disrepair without some TLC. But one that – a blink ago – brought so much joy to our children. So much laughter.
I can see them twelve years ago, innocent and wide-eyed, laughing and struggling to climb into the collapsible swings. “Push me, push me,” one would ask as I pulled their swing backward, higher, and higher – “beep, beep, beep” and then – on release – a launch sound, “Pppshhhhhooooooolllllllll.” That was my swing routine with them.
I can see my wife with her beautiful smile and playful personality standing behind the children and their friends as they climbed one of the ladders, ever fearful of a slip of the foot. Once safe, I can hear her loving banter and their gleeful shouts as they joyfully slide the slide, turn, and of course try to walk back up the hard way.
It was an adventure to their tiny bodies, through the tunnel, into the little club house. Their joy brought to mind my Grandma Betty, who could, on park-sized swings, push us high, then run under us to the other side. She was amazing to me.
Our oldest is about to graduate from high school and will soon leave for Virginia Tech’s School of Engineering. Next in line is just a class behind. The reality of those departures have spring-loaded my wife’s emotions – and mine. You love and nurture, and do all that you can to prepare them, and pray that you’ve done enough. You realize you cannot stop time, but that only through time can you see the results.