My son is growing up. While this fact may not seem especially profound, when he called me on the phone the other day and I did not recognize his voice, it felt pretty profound to me. To understand the significance of this one must remove the intellect from the conversation. I “know” he is growing up. No duh. I am not a complete dolt and am familiar with a calendar. However, my true recognition lay more in a feeling than in a cognitive understanding. This feeling occurred as a reckoning and it kind of sucked.
Being faced with the fact that I can’t recognize my own son’s voice on the phone doesn’t trouble me too much. The fact that I will never hear his squeaky little boy voice again does.
Here is the trap: we think “it” will last. It doesn’t. The world spins as the mountains slowly shift to the sea. We begin dying with our first breath. It ends and so do we. In no arena of life have I found this phenomenon more obvious than my kids’ growing up. Life feels static for a while, then, WHAMMO!!!— My son’s voice is deeper than mine and I wonder where the time went.
In this way, our kids teach us more than we teach them. We witness their milestones and in them, we face our own mortality. We feel time in this way. Feeling time rarely feels good. Nonetheless, we feel it and must move with it and this hurts a little bit.
Each age in a child’s life is its own special type of pain in the ass. They are the types of pains that, in the moment, I wish would just go away. The problem is that I miss them when they’re gone. This forces one to truly realize that this time, like all times, is passing. Questions of life and death and truth and value hit hard. Through the busy busyness of living, it is easy of overlook the essential idea that living involves actually being alive.
“Being alive” is a subjective judgment. We all must decide for ourselves what is important to do, be, have, and/or see. There is no handy pocket map available to keep us headed in the direction we wish to travel. We must trip and fall and navigate blindly in the dark of night, stumbling through an uncertain course. We have only our sense of what’s important standing as a beacon to guide us.
Recognizing that my little boy is gone and isn’t coming back creates a sense of urgency to appreciate this new age, because it too will be gone. And I will miss it.
So, I will buy him some razors and teach the boy to shave. I will tell him he’s stinky when he stinks. I will support and encourage his exploration. I will share the fears and screw ups that I encountered during my own miserable teenage years. I will provide a shoulder to lean on or stand behind in his efforts to become a man. I understand all too clearly the challenges of his age.
As one door has closed, another has opened and I will enter this space with hope and pride and the certain knowledge that it will all work out. The clock hand cannot be turned back and it does no good wishing to just once more hear his little voice saying “Dad”. That voice is gone. But, I suppose I’ll get used to his new one. It was a little creepy at first, but it’s growing on me.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]