For all the aching parts of growing up

by Kari on October 17, 2011

We’ve been in our new house a week when we take a family-date to carry away the mountain of flattened cardboard boxes to a local recycling drop.  The kids pile into the car as the sun goes down. Jeff ties the boxes on tight, drives slowly. We make it. Kids topple out of the car, they drag the small ones over and heave them over their heads into the receptacle. All’s well. We climb back in, it’s dark now. We’re near the Goodwill drop-off so we stop. Drop off some boxes of 2T clothes, board books, Heidi’s infant bike-seat. I hand over pieces of our life and shake my head. They’re growing so fast. 

We have a gift to deliver to our old next-door neighbors who helped us with our move. As we pull onto our old road, turn left on Winkel Way, I wonder how this will go …

Our old house comes into view. A pod is in the driveway. The lights are on and I can see the bare walls inside. Dutch pipes up from the backseat.

“Mommy, who lives in our house now?” I explain. Some little children. A family. A nice family who will take good care of it. Silence. I can feel the air in the car change.

“Is their car in our garage?” Dutch asks slow, a slight quiver in his voice. Yes, I say.

We drop the gift at our neighbors’. It’s dark and our old house is all lit up, glowing at the top of the street. The kids are quiet.

We slowly pull away, and I can hear Dutch begin to quietly cry. Real tears, not just fussing or protesting. The real ones that come out even when you’re trying to be brave.

“Mommy, I love our old house,” the words spill out,  “I didn’t want to move.” I exhale. Ache. I know he’s not yet 5 but I also know how real little feelings are to little people.

“I know, baby, I know.” I take his hand and turn all the way around in my seat. Face him.  “Can I tell you a story?” He looks up, nods. In the light of the passing streetlights I can see the tears on his cheeks.  Oh it’s so hard to grow up.  

I tell my story: “I remember when I was little and we moved. And I was so excited for my new house, but then I remember after we’d moved all our stuff, my daddy and I, just the two of us, went back to our old house, to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind.”

Now I’m the one with the quivering voice. “And I got so sad, Dutch.”

He’s listening.

“I got so sad because I remembered all the fun things we did in that house. And my daddy got sad too. Because he remembered how little I used to be in that house, how he’s brought me home from the hospital there, and all the fun times we’d had together. He held me in his arms, and we both cried as we left because we both felt sad. Even though we were happy about our new house, we both cried because we felt sad leaving all the fun memories behind. It’s hard to grow up, sweetie. I know.”

I can see Dutch now, holding onto the strings of my story.

“And then did you get happy again?” He asks, holding onto a string. We turn onto the main road, can no long see our house behind.

“Yep. We were both sad, but we were also both happy because we got to go to our new house together and make more fun memories.”   The wheels are turning.

“Did Papa’s hair look different then?”

Now I’m laughing, tears still spilling. “Yes, babe. It was different.”

“Because he was younger then, right?”

“Yes, he was young like daddy.” I close my eyes. I can see.

Dutch smiles. “And he wasn’t a Papa yet!”

“Nope, just a daddy.”

And now I have to face front because the tears won’t stop. And now I know Dutch’s ache because my daddy’s almost 70 and Where do the years go? And it’s just a house and it’s just down the road but these car wheels turn so fast and Oh it’s so hard to grow up. 

We pull into our new driveway. Gravel crackles under the tires. It’s good but  unfamiliar. I’m happy-sad because I don’t know this new place in life. It’s a new walk and a new place and I’m the daughter-mom who stretches out like a bridge and I ask silently for new mercies and reach to open Dutch’s door.

“Mommy, will you carry me inside?”

“Yes.” I pull him in and hold tight. Inhale him and I ask God for fresh grace for all these new moments. Fresh grace for all the aching parts of growing up. 

 {For whatever places ache in you today … may you find grace. Thanks for reading.}