Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Promise Me You Will Never Grow Up

My heart hurt yesterday. While I do have a few extra pounds on me (well…more than a few), and I don’t exercise as much as I should, I assure you it wasn’t that kind of pain. It was more of a heart-ache. I have “lost” some people in my life and it hit me hard last night.

K, my oldest, performed in her school musical. She had a great part- a few solos, good dialogue, and an overall stellar performance. The other kids in the show did an awesome job as well. It was one of the best middle-school musicals I have ever seen (granted- this was only the second). There was one particular part in the musical that impacted me far deeper than I expected. K walked out on stage to start off a scene and it hit me hard. “Who is that woman?” She’s not my little girl, that’s for sure. She looked like she went from 13 years old to 18 in a matter of minutes.

While one half of my brain continued to pay attention to the show, the other half started diving deep into thoughts and memories. Where are my little girls? I remember K and L holding onto my neck as I walked around with them, each with their feet firmly planted in my hands. I remember them crawling into my lap and hugging on me, asking me questions, kissing all over me. I looked to my left and saw L and my two little ones, A & R, and sure enough…they looked older too. It’s as if some magical dust was sprinkled by the witch in the musical that made my girls age several years at about 7:30PM last night.

I think what might have contributed to all of this was a recent decision to convert all of our old High8 video tapes to DVD. I dropped them off at Wolf Camera, and within a couple of days, we had amazing DVDs of all our family movies. They even create a couple music video’s out of several scenes. The last month or so we have been watching them, and the kids are fascinated at who they used to be. Me too.

I unconditionally love my four girls, just as they are now, and am excited to see who they become. That does not take away, however, the longing I have for who they were 5 or 10 years ago. Those kids are gone forever.

Before I had kids, I remember people telling me that I will not truly understand love until I do. Romantic love is just one part of love- to have children, to love your neighbor, and to love God completes the circle. After Michelle and I had our first, we got it. Really got it. But no one told us about the pain that goes along with having children. Well- maybe during child-birth Michelle figured that part out.

For me, the pain started soon after the love. That pain becomes most evident when your child gets physically hurt, or sick, or loses a favorite toy, forgets something at a restaurant or theatre- and breaks into tears, weeping and gnashing of teeth that is worthy of an academy award. The hard ones are when a friend betrays them, or a mean kid at school hurts them with words. It is shocking how personal their pain becomes. How it feels like the pain is completely my own. It makes me love and appreciate my parents even more.

These next few years are more critical than ever. I want to be there for my oldest two as they become women, to support, encourage and challenge them to continue to grow in grace, to love God and others, and to make right decisions. I also want to have a fresh heart and mind with my two youngest- to do the same things with them I did with my oldest. Man, this is hard.