Observations on the rollercoaster ride that is parenting

Not Yet

There was a time when I could go to the store, get what I need, and get back in the same amount of time it takes us to corral all the kids and get them in the car today. Everything was hassle free – errands, dinners out, movies, travel – I had more time in the day than I knew how to fill. I hate that time. I don’t miss a second of it. But it will be back… shortly…and it looms hauntingly in the back of my mind.

We went to the lake last weekend to celebrate Independence Day with my in-laws and we took their boat out on the water. We planned to arrive around 9am to get a few hours in prior to the heat of the day setting in. As usual, it took us a while to get out of the house, and by the time we gassed up and grabbed some food 9am had passed (I would mention my “shortcut” but it didn’t really impact us since we were already late, so…). We drove through the winding canyon roads and pretended we were on a roller-coaster ride. The boys threw their hands in the air when we went down the hills and dips, and leaned into every twist and turn. We were all in high spirits and looking forward to playing at the lake. We arrived about an hour late (not too bad), found out the marina was nowhere near capacity, parked right next to the cove (had we arrived too early, the space may not have been available… maybe), and unloaded all our kids and gear. It was shaping up to be just another fun Saturday…until we went out on the water.

The stage was set… I was steering us out into the lake toward the canyon walls. The water was wide open with very little chop. Kendra held Ethan on her lap and sat across from her mother on the bow seats. Jaden and Dillon sat at the stern near the prop so they could watch the wake behind us. I was soaking in the serenity of the beautiful sky and glide of the vessel toward the canyon passage. The spray from the lake offered periodic relief with bursts of mist. Sound faded away… I caught the satisfied smiles of the passengers as we sped along, my head on a constant swivel to be watchful of skiers or other sea traffic. I was completely given to the moment when I heard it, and the looming shadow crept forward.

“Wow! He’s a really good JetSkier!” was the proclamation that came from behind me. As I heard it, I saw Ethan’s face glow with elation as he smiled widely and pointed off the starboard side. I turned to see the JetSkier zipping along beside us, and watched as he skipped back and forth across our wake.  He sped up beside us to wave then fell back again to continue the entertainment. Logan had become an impressive skier! He followed us through the canyon and to the other side of the lake. Turning away now and then to find new wake to jump or to reposition himself out of the way of the other watercraft. I wrestled with that JetSki years ago and never could get it going. He was out on the lake making it look as simple as walking. I was very proud to see him out there, and I knew the time he spent working to get to that level.  I started recalling his first bike ride, his first tree climb, the time he gave up the floatation support and committed to learn to swim… all these things rushed to mind. It seemed as close as yesterday. I watched the boys study him. I knew they were contemplating the challenge. The shadow inched closer. I slowed the boat.

Logan is 13…and a half.  It seems like tomorrow that will be leaving home for college…next week the twins… next month Ethan. The shadow was on my mind completely.  It is too harsh a reality that these moments are ever fleeting. They have their lives, their paths to follow. I couldn’t shake those thoughts, but I was able to push them far enough back to enjoy the ride back to shore. I laid off the throttle, despite the urgings of my thrill-seeking children. And after we anchored in the cove, my only thought was to let the day drag on as long as it could. I made no mention of leaving, nor did I seek out the time of day. It would end when it ended, and after a few glorious hours it did.

We don’t really speak about it, but I know Kendra feels the shadow too. The boys will be running around the house and she will grab whomever she can catch and just hug and kiss him. They hate this, or at least pretend to, but I know why she does it. The same reason I do, and the same reason that makes us go into their room at night and watch them sleep peacefully. The time. One day, that time will return. And I will hate it.

Thanks for coming along for the ride…

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