This morning, my sweet six-year-old daughter missed the bus.
In and of itself that isn’t a big deal, but when taken in conjunction with several other factors, it managed to transform itself into the catalyst that has ultimately led me into a deep sense of melancholy today.
You see, it actually started three weeks ago. That was when my beautiful wife, who for the last sixteen years has chosen to stay home and raise our kids, succumbed to the financial pressure of life and got a job. Now don’t get me wrong, for all intents and purposes, it’s a great job. She only has to work five hours a day, four days a week. She’s there when the kids leave in the morning and she’s there when they get home from school. And to make it even better, she gets all school holidays and the summers off as well. Plus, I haven’t even mentioned how our older children will get to take up to six hours of college classes free of charge because she now works for the local community college. I mean, it really is a sweet gig.
However, there are so many symbolic things about her taking that job that are hard for me to accept. But I digress.
Because my wife is now working, it was easier for me this morning to be the one to take my daughter to school. When I dropped her off, she had a fairly long walk to the entrance, so I pulled away from the drop-off point and found a safe place a little ways down the road where I could watch her make her way toward the entrance. I don’t know why, I just did. And it made me sad.
She looked too small to be walking by herself into the dangerous world I know a schoolyard can be. I wanted to get out and hug her, put her back in the truck and take her home. It was clear that she needed protection. It was clear that she needed her dad.
Except, she didn’t.
And when it comes to walking solo into a schoolyard, she never will again.
Now this reaction may seem extreme, but let me provide some other extenuating circumstances:
- One, my oldest daughter turned 16 today. There are so many things to say, and yet, where could I possibly begin?
- Two, my back hurts. And my knee hurts. And while neither predicament is particularly debilitating, the truth is, neither one is likely to stop hurting anytime soon. If I am to believe some individuals, the harsh reality is that they may never stop hurting. Apparently it is related to something called “being over 40.” Well, if that’s the case, let it be known that “being over 40” sucks. I’m not sure anyone else knew that, so I’m just passing it on.
- Three, my baby isn’t a baby anymore. My youngest is now a precocious 19-month-old and can tell me when she wants to dance, (her personal favorite dancing tune is Back in Black by AC/DC, much to her mother’s dismay) when she wants a bottle, and can personally throw her own wet diapers away without assistance. And just this week, she started calling Mickey Mouse by his correct name instead of Pickey. I miss hearing her say Pickey. It was adorable. And now it’s gone. Just like when my older son used to run in circles with his cowboy hat on sideways because it looked like a musketeer hat that way, or when my younger son would call hamburgers, hangaburs. Special memories that will never be duplicated and will never return.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many wonderful things about seeing my children grow and the things they accomplish. I am in awe of my son’s abilities on the piano. I love to watch age appropriate movies and television shows with my older kids. The list could go on and on.
But just once, I wish I could turn back the clock and hold them as infants one more time. Or hear them say the cute things that once used to warm my heart. Or maybe, just maybe, have them see me for one last moment as the all-knowing giant of a man who can cure any ailment and protect them from everything scary in the world.
Because you see, those are the things that not even eternity can offer. At least not as far as I can tell. And on a day when my oldest baby speeds past one more milestone on the highway to adulthood, that sobering thought makes me a little sad.