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Response to The Daily Prompt

A Moment in Time: What was the last picture you took? Tell us the story behind it. (No story behind the photo? Make one up, or choose the last picture you took that had one.)

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Arn & Caleb

Goodbyes are always hardest…

The job of raising a family is FULL of contradictions. I’ve always heard it said the two most important things we can give our kids are roots and wings.

During our children’s early years we spend the bulk of our time teaching them to be responsible around the house and in their studies, and don’t forget the pets. We strive to teach them to be considerate with their family and friends and persons in authority. On the flip side we’re preparing them to go off and conquer the world by telling them there’s nothing they can’t do if they just try hard enough. They should follow their dreams, we tell them, and not settle for a life that doesn’t fit. In essence, we try to teach them to make the best choices they can.

Then lo and behold (!) they turn into the most amazing people. And we pat ourselves on the back for doing a half-way decent job of getting them through their early years alive and in one piece. (I say half-way because I’m pretty sure dumb luck and their own personalities have a lot to do with it.) If we’re lucky, they find their niche in the world somewhere near us and an extended family is born. But that’s not always the case.

Sometimes they waltz into your hearts and announce they’re moving away to follow their dreams (or their spouse’s, as often happens). And for some of us it’s as if we never seriously considered the possibilities inherent in our “follow your dreams, don’t settle” pitch. We’re shocked and dismayed. Maybe even devastated. It’s a huge adjustment. And even if we make it with a reasonable amount of equilibrium assuring ourselves they’ll be back for visits, there’s one thing we never seem to come to terms with — the sadness of saying goodbye again and again. Especially when there are grandchildren involved.

Our daughter flew in from D.C. with her youngest for Christmas this year. We hadn’t seen our grandkids since Caleb’s birth in November 2013 when we’d flown to their house for an early Christmas. We were pretty downhearted when she said she wasn’t bringing the other two boys. Not that we didn’t understand. Three kids under the age of five on a plane? Yeah, we got it. And as it turned out, as much as we missed Ethan and Liam, it was kind of fun to have Caleb to ourselves for that little while. But then came the hard part we never get used to, the having to say goodbye again. The picture above was taken at the airport Christmas afternoon when they left so they could spend part of Christmas day with their family as well.

Now I’m a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps kind of person, so I always try to keep my tears to a minimum. And though I’m an incessant worry wart, as I’ve already admitted elsewhere, and tend to have worst-case scenarios like plane crashes bombard me at these moments, I’m of a fairly practical mind when it comes to this subject. You have to go where your husband and his job are. But having come from a family of eight kids who all settled around their parents, his lordship is the one who really struggles the most with not having our grandkids around. He didn’t want to say goodbye, and it seemed that Caleb, picking up on HL’s emotions, knew it’d be a long time until we saw them again. This picture totally undid me.

When we think of leavings in our lives, I’d guess most often we think of death. But life is full of leavings. And with every leaving something of ourselves is also left behind — a grandpa helping 13-month-old Caleb learn to walk. Life is constantly changing. We are forever being remodeled and refined. And one thing I’ve learned from these many goodbyes at the airport is that for every leaving there is also an arriving — somewhere. For us, for them. Life is a circle. In the end I believe it always comes back to roots and wings.

So next time you’re facing a leaving, stop and ask yourself what YOUR next destination might be. You just could surprise yourself with the many possibilities.

~Calen