Published Originally Oct. 7, 2011
“Where has the time gone?” I say to just about anyone who will listen. “Don't get me wrong; I want my children to grow up (the alternative is unthinkable). I just want to know: Where has the time gone?”
It’s baffling. I can't figure out how my brown-eyed girl (born just yesterday), is today a young lady looking at colleges. Or how, overnight, I went from buying my little boy light-up Batman sneakers to shopping for size 15 Nikes™. And how--how in the world--did my baby girl get to her last year of middle school already, when just last night I was sneaking her ragged pink blankie into the laundry?
Where has the time gone?
I don't know, but I think I’m looking for it in the wrong zone. In Greek, there are two words for time. There’s Chronos—time that is measured, ya know, chronologically. And then there is Kairos—time that is measured by experiences. Chronos dissolves into seconds, days, years. Kairos, though . . . Kairos remains.
Chronos counts birthdays by ordinal numbers: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, . . . . But Kairos thinks back to a ballerina party that blended over the course of chronos into a makeover session, a Firefighter party for preschoolers that ended as a pick-up basketball game for teenagers in the church gym, and a ladybug piñata in our backyard in Sanford, NC that exploded into one surrounded by teenagers in our Asheville garage.
Chronos sees the seasons come and go and checks off another year. But Kairos sees differently. Kairos sees the Queen of Hearts, Angelina Ballerina, and Thing 1, all with curly blond hair; a puppy, a robot, and a number of clowns, all making lots and lots of noise; a pediatrician, Hermione Granger, and Toy Story’s Jessie, all of whom were far more grown-up than they should have been. Kairos remembers . . . the ball dropping, its year changing in that chronos way all the way down; sandcastles washed away one year and built back up the next; trips to Houston, trips back home, & trips back out again. Kairos smiles remembering all the games of Barnyard Bingo, Blink, & Bananagrams; all the books we've read—from Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton to Brian Jacques and J.K. Rowling; all the hours of Veggietales, American Idol, and Psych. And Kairos weeps, weeps as faded faces and sharp memories come to mind: Wayne, Paxten, Matthew, Caleb, Cliff . . . . Chronos, distracted by the clock’s ticking, the days passing, just can't keep up.
Chronos says things like, “How long’s it been . . . .”
Kairos says, “Remember when . . . ?”
Chronos, nervous and fretful, checks its watch and marks days off the calendar.
Kairos flips through photographs and artwork, videos, mementos.
Chronos grows anxious.
Kairos becomes nostalgic.
Where has the time gone?
Chronos doesn’t know.
But Kairos does.
Kairos says, “Look around you. It’s all right here.”
Published on: Jan 7, 2012
As parenting goes, I have always dreaded the day when I uttered these words: "THIS is worse than potty training." Since my kids are pretty close in age, I was potty training at least one of them for three straight years. I'm being self-aware not self-deprecating when I tell you: I'm not good at teaching toddlers the tricks of the toilet. I'm not. (And please don't leave me any tips here because really, I've heard them all and besides, they pretty well have it down by now.)
I said then, as I've said for the last decade or so, "I dread the day when I say, 'This is worse than potty training.'"
And I have not said it. I didn't say it when eight-year-old Trellace spent five days in the hospital because of a ruptured appendix, or when, at 16, she went to summer camp in Nairobi (of all places). I didn't say it when pneumonia bored a hole through Baker's lung in the fifth grade or when he got his first girlfriend. And I haven't said it despite Margaret's ongoing issues with migraines and asthma.
I guess in all of those situations, I felt like I had some control even if in reality, I didn't. I've had migraines all my life and I've studied asthma since Baker was diagnosed at 15 months old. We have great doctors in Asheville so my children have had excellent medical care. Baker has always chosen great friends, whether they were girls or boys, and Trellace was well prepared for her African adventure.
But this stage? THIS is worse than potty training.
You see, stitched into the very fiber of my being is a longing for all three of my children to have the desires of their hearts. Likewise, I want them to grow into adults, not to remain children. I want them to reach for the moon and I want to give them a boost to help them get there. I want them to move on to the next stage (the alternative is unthinkable), and to continue becoming all that God has created them to be.
I just don't want to let them go.
I want Trellace to go to the college of her dreams. I just want to go with her. And I want all of her friends to go with us too.
In truth, I think it's the friend thing that makes this whole stage nearly unbearable. See Trellace has really, really great friends. We have played together, laughed together, dreamed together. I feel like I'm not just letting go of my daughter, but also of a group of girls who have settled into my heart right along beside her. It's so hard.
It's worse than potty training. Worse, and just as inevitable: because I wouldn't have wanted to take my kids to kindergarten in diapers. And I wouldn't want my kids or their friends to grow old without growing up.
So it's time. It's time to celebrate the painful, beautiful, gut-wrenching, hope-filled transition from what has been to what will be. Ready or not: here it comes.
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . . " Ecclesiastes 3:1