The kids went back to school this morning. There were new clothes, a special breakfast, prayers and pictures in the driveway, and two kids looking older than they did just yesterday.
Every parent knows the bittersweet blend of joy in growth and sadness at time passing. Being home with them during their breaks is a tremendous blessing, but the time passes so quickly. I blinked again, and summer has ended.
I love being a father. I love taking care of my kids, playing with them, helping them learn and grow. I love figuring out some adventure or experiment for us, building things with them, and talking with them.
This summer was wonderful, but it was much too fast again. There were a few more things I would’ve liked to do with them, from picnics and fishing to bike rides and expanding our tree fort. Rocket cars were built but still await launch. Those omissions didn’t ruin our summer, but they do remind and motivate me to make the most of my time with them.
The things we did together, though, are more important than the things we didn’t get around to. The books we read, games we played, talks we had, and smiles we shared matter more. We got to some libraries, swam, stargazed, played hide and seek, shot archery in the backyard, and made slingshots out of sticks (the back of the garage is still speckled with paintballs). We had some adventures and built Lego everything. We went to five vacation Bible schools at local churches (the kids kept hoping for another one) and mostly succeeded in decluttering the house as a surprise for Tracy while she was in Zambia. We played Mario Kart on the Wii, and Billy and Karen improved so much that now I can’t often beat them. They played air guitar while I sang to them about God. Movies included Disney’s Meet the Robinsons, which is a masterful exploration of staying positive, learning from our mistakes and failures, and moving forward.
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious … And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
– Walt Disney, as quoted at the end of the film Meet the Robinsons
This summer was wonderful largely because I learned from last summer’s mistake. Last year, I tried to maintain a full (volunteer) workload for our ministry while taking care of them all day, but I only succeeded in feeling frustrated and guilty about doing neither well. Still unemployed this summer, I made peace with the reality that little would get done and that whatever did was a bonus. Instead of trying to do everything, I focused on our family, and things were much better. We had a magnificent summer together, and I thank God for that blessing and for the guidance to embrace it.
It’s bittersweet to send them off to school again. Another summer has ended; I’m excited to get my workday back, but I already miss my little buddies. Still, they’ll be home in a few hours, full of joy and stories about their day, and we’ll keep moving forward.