Another garage sale done. As Terry and I pack, prepare to move and get ready to take our last of four kids to college, I came across these words by Dennis Rainey, the director of Family Life who wrote this back in 1987. Seemed appropriate. Enjoy…but you might wanna grab a Kleenex first.
One day when the kids are gone there will be plenty of ice cream just for Barbara and me. I won’t find the can of Hershey’s chocolate on the lower shelf-empty and with a sticky bottom. We will return to a small refrigerator, and eat on the antique table we used when we were first married. There won’t be those strange-looking leftovers that some kid has shoved back in a dark corner of the fridge have the appearance of living green hockey pucks. And there won’t be a teenager standing in front of the refrigerator with a blank stare on his face, looking for ..?
Someday when the kids are gone we won’t have to decipher new words coined by toddlers learning to talk, words like: “hangerburrs” (hamburgers), “pock-opps” (pockets), “i-camean” (ice cream), “cheros” (cheerios), “blana” (banana), “banky” (blanket), and “habba-burr day” (happy birthday).
Cars will be clean again. There won’t be Sunday School papers, chewed gum, or petrified McDonald french fries on the floor board. No diapers. No toys in the tub. No trails of clothing on the floor from one end of the house to the other. There won’t be a jillion tiny things “smushed” in the carpet – gum wrappers, legos, matchbox cars, doll combs, fishhooks, pony tail holders, hair barrettes, and popsicle sticks. Nor will we stumble over herds of teddy bears, dolls, and stuffed animals grazing or napping on the carpet.
Bills: there won’t be nearly as many bills. Bills for the orthodontist, the dentist, many doctors, groceries (ugh), sporting goods store, orthopedic shoes, clothes (thank the Lord for hand-me-downs), and plumbers – retrieving “froggie”, the bean bag frog that met his fate in the toilet when he got flushed one day.
Someday when the kids are gone there won’t be any more heart to heart talks with teens. No more “birds and the bees” conversations that caused sweaty palms and blushes – mine and Barbara’s. No more grappling over tough decisions -what we should let them do or not let them do.
Someday when the kids are gone, Barbara and I will go to bed and won’t have blank stares on our faces, being nearly brain-dead at the end of the day. Doors will be shut. Cabinet doors in the kitchen will be closed. And every light in the house won’t have to be turned off. There won’t be any jars full of nickels, dimes, and quarters saved for a special trip to Disneyland, the beach, and a Dodgers baseball game.
Someday when the kids are gone there won’t be any pitter-patter of little feet running down the hallway and then crawling in bed and snuggling with us early on Saturday morning.
Fewer things will be lost – like tools from my garage. No frantic search parties at 9:00 p.m. for lost blankets. Socks will miraculously find their mates. Car keys will be where they were left. And Barbara’s clothes will be in her closet, not in her teenage daughter’s piles. Fewer things will need to be cleaned – like windows smeared with fingerprints of sugar daddies and M & M’s, kitchen floors dotted with peanut butter, honey, and apple juice spills, and mud balls thrown against the side of the garage.
Someday when the kids are gone there won’t be any popcorn scattered like snow on the living room carpet in front of the television where we watched Dorothy and “The Wizard of Oz” at least 24 times. There won’t be any roller-skating in the kitchen (around the island – at dinner time). There won’t be any nursing of croup, allergies, sore throats, and tummyaches (from too much candy). And there won’t be calendars packed with the agenda of kids: piano lessons, pep rallies, ball practice, art lessons, bunking parties, retreats, or birthday parties. Perhaps one day the yard will be green again. And there won’t be any glasses, bowls, forks, knives and spoons that have been carted off by little girls “baking cakes in the sand box.”
One day there won’t be any fights, arguments, and disputes between kids. Rooms will be clean. Beds wrinkle-free. And closets neat again. And I won’t have to apologize and ask a four year-old’s forgiveness for getting angry and impatient.
One day the piercing screams of a 2-year-old fighting for survival as the last of six will be replaced with calm conversations where adults talk in a civil manner with one another… in complete sentences! And we won’t need nearly as many band-aids.
But there will be memories – memories that give a sense of fulfillment to a pair of parents who grew weary at times, but (hopefully) never lost sight that we were fulfilling God’s plan by shaping another generation. There will be scrapbooks chronicling our family’s journey in life – volumes of them, more valuable than any limited edition, leather bound best-seller: snapshots of vacations – Easter dresses – winter picnics – a log cabin playhouse that took us forever to build – fishing and hunting trips – first days of school – goofing around – breakfast in bed on birthdays – family nights – wiener roasts and s’mores – Christmas traditions – Grandmas, Grandpas, cousins, and friends.
There will be other visible remembrances such as a handmade Father’s Day card from a son. A wood plaque entitled “World’s best MOM”. Assorted crayola drawings, verses, and stick people drawn on construction paper.
Occasionally, there will be remembrances of those emotionally churning, frightening, and dramatic moments, such as: six year-old Rebecca falling off our 12’ deck and landing on her head; Barbara’s heart racing at 300 beats a minute when she was 3 months pregnant with Laura; a lost boy at Disneyland after dark; a scared 2 year-old’s midnight episode with croup, and Ashley, 6, in an oxygen tent battling asthma in the hospital for 4 days.
But in the end our home won’t be empty. And, in the words of Bob Benson, Barbara and I “will sit quietly by the fire and listen to the laughter in the walls.” “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3).
Are you enjoying them or enduring them?
– Dennis Rainey