I Can’t Do A Lot Of Things; But I Can Do This. . .

I pull on my shoes and bend down to tie them while two puppies, creatures of habit, sit at my feet staring at me curiously. It’s still dark out–this isn’t our routine. I pull on my coat and look out into the darkness through the front window, waiting for Chad’s headlights to to turn onto our road. A cold puppy nose nudges my hand, nervous at the change in the routine. I stroke her head with one hand while I watch for headlights to light up our road.

Last night I kissed three foreheads and hugged three little bodies, I’ll see you after school, I tell them. I have an early morning appointment so I will leave before you get up in the morning–Daddy will be here, though. They hug me back and say okay.

I walk back to the kitchen and breathe in the scent of fresh made coffee while I grab a notepad and scribble a quick note. . .

I love you!
Have a great day!
Make the world a better place!
Be kind to everyone!
I love you!

My send off every morning, usually in spoken words. . . today, written.

I walk back to the front door and look at my watch. 6:45. Chad should be home soon. I walk around the corner and am surprised by the bed-head blonde sitting at the top of the stairs. Her wake-up every day is like clockwork–more dependable than an alarm. Her body wakes her up at 7 each morning. She’s up 15 minutes early. Why are you up? I ask her. She shrugs her shoulders, but I know. She’s awake to say goodbye.

We walk to the kitchen together. I gather her breakfast before stepping into the garage where I open the garage door start the car engine. I turn the heat on high because, sadly, the first day a spring didn’t send winter weather packing. I walk back into the kitchen and hear a loud THUMP from the ceiling above me. This is followed by what sounds like a stampede of cattle racing down the hallway and down the stairs. I already know who it is. I look up and see Charlie racing toward the kitchen. When he sees me a look of relief crosses his face. I’m still here I tell him. He hugs me and says goodbye. Moments later, Meadow appears, groggy, only partially awake. She hugs me and tells me goodbye.

I hold my note up to all three of them and point. . .

I love you.
Have a great day!
Make the world a better place!
Be kind to everyone!
I love you!

They smile. They know. This is just what we do.

Chad walks in the door. It’s 6:51 now. Three more hugs. Three more goodbyes. I’m out the door.

As I drive to my appointment I think about their early wake up. I think about the race for goodbye. I think about our routine. I think about how a tiny act. A goodbye. A tradition of a few words, everyday. I think about being here. . . I think about how so little means so much.

They are growing and changing, our kids. Their entire worlds–changing so quickly I can hardly keep up. I wonder how hard it is for their growing minds and bodies to keep up?  Next year Charlie will change schools. Friends will change with seasons and classrooms. People change. Ideas change. Their bodies change. Their thoughts change.

Change is scary. The road of adolescence is anything but smooth. Rocky at best. This much I know.

I will mess up a lot as I help them navigate these waters. I will fail them more often than I want, I’m sure. They will go through seasons of not liking me. They will go through seasons of wanting to keep me at arms length. They have so little control over the changes. I have so little control over the changes.

Still, a simple routine–whatever the routine–can be a stabilizing force. A foundation. A lighthouse in in the murky waters of a dark and confusing world. A guidepost along their way.

More often than not, I won’t have answers for them. I won’t be able to save them from the trials that come as they learn and grow. They will go through hard times. They will have to do hard things. I can feel helpless sometimes when I realize how much they will go through–how much I can’t protect them.

But I can do this. . . I can be here. I can grab their shoulders every day and hold them close. I can say I love you! Have a great day! Make the world a better place! Be kind to everyone! And when everything around them is changing, I can repeat these words and remind them that, despite all the changes, some things will stay the same.

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