He celebrated his last day of school yesterday. Second grade is written down in the history books, and the summer looms with all its anticipation and promise. Then it’s onto third grade. Another year. Another milestone. As I tucked him into bed and kissed him good night on that last day of second grade, he told me he was an all-star at growing up. And my heart lurched.
Because they tell you it goes so fast. Don’t blink, they say. White-haired grandmothers with tears in their nostalgic eyes tell you to enjoy the little years while you can because they will be gone in a flash. And you nod politely and clench your teeth because you’re so deep in the grit of the moment that you can’t see through it to the glory.
When you’re sweeping floors and tending chores, wiping tears and calming fears, it’s a test of endurance to simply make it to nap time.
Yes, you knew it would be hard, but you couldn’t have ever imagined this: this sacrificial serving of another’s needs that empties you out beyond exhaustion and yet fills your heart to a depth you cannot measure. You couldn’t have imagined this. And when you’re in the thick of it, it can seem relentless, unending. You could blink a million times, you think, and you wouldn’t miss it. You’d still be there with a toddler at your side.
But then one day it happens … your not-so-little boy is no longer a toddler. He’s catching frogs and catching baseballs, playing guitar and studying caterpillars. And then he lies in bed on his last day of second grade, and he tells you that he’ll soon be in third grade before going onto fourth. You do the math with startling clarity as your breath catches in your throat, and you realize that the next 8 years will pass just as quickly as the first, and soon he’ll be 16. A young man with the world before him and rapidly unfurling wings.
And all you want to do is cling to the tethers. Wrap that little boy to your chest and bind him to you because he is your heart and how will you ever survive his growing into independence?
Your heart beats fast, because surely it can’t be true. And yet it is. All those women who said it passes so quickly … those women who seemed to have forgotten the elbow-deep, knees-to-the-floor, wake-in-the-night years … they were right. Blink, and the toddler grows into a boy who stretches long into a young man.
It’s just a blink.
He woke this morning, the first day of his summer vacation and came downstairs with that mop top of his and his cowlick standing on end. He asked for breakfast and stretched on the couch, long, and yet still small, and I want to bottle this moment. This eyes-wide-open morning when God graciously grants me the gift of perspective and I see not the grit of these early years, but the glory.
And I pray, Lord don’t let me miss it. Don’t let me blink.
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