Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Blink All You Want: It Will Be Okay! Cheers!

Before I go on to write about our youngest son's beautiful Catholic wedding Mass on Sept. 7, followed by a fabulous reception held under an enormous tent set up on the bride's family's ancestral farm (as a rather overdue follow-up to my most recent post about his rehearsal dinner), I thought I'd share a few more photos from the rehearsal dinner that make my eyes sting a little when I look at them.  And it's not imagining taking a swig of hard liquor that makes them, sting--it's something else entirely...but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

In recent years, I've been doing a lot of those, "don't blink, young mamas" posts, both here and over on Instagram.  (When I did blink, the cute little fellers snuggled up together on the couch in this photo had suddenly grown up and moved out of the house to start lives of their own.  The nerve!)

It's so true that although the individual days can seem very long when you're focusing on the care and feeding of small children, the years fly by in a flash; and I'm left almost breathless by the fact that the soft-cheeked little boys I raised are now grown men raising soft-cheeked babies of their own.  I can hardly figure out how that even happened.  So those sentimental "don't blink" posts I've written are very bittersweet; but I worry that perhaps they seem to focus a little too much on the bitter part.  Because oh, let me tell you: there is something so indescribably sweet about having grown-up children, about seeing what fine adults they've become and realizing that they are some of your very favorite people on the planet, the people you would most like to spend your time with.  And God willing, you will most likely get to spend much more time with them as adults--you'll be adults together!--than you'll spend with them as children.

Case in point: our oldest son is going to turn 36 this month.  He left his home in NH at 18 to go off to college in South Bend, IN; after that, he only came back for school breaks and summers, until he was sent to his first post in the Army after he graduated from Notre Dame.  So when he celebrates this next birthday, he will have been out on his own for the same number of years as we had him living under our roof.  He has already spent half of his life living apart from his parents.

I recently read an Instagram post by a gal whom many of you have probably known for years but I've just "met" since I joined Instagram and found--to my delight!-- a veritable treasure trove of Catholic writers who inspire me daily.   The IG post was by Laura Fanucci (@thismessygrace), and she wrote about how her husband and she were chatting with one of his colleagues, who was raving about his grandkids. Then he found out that Laura and her husband were expecting their fifth child.  "His eyes went wide.  I could see the usual jokes on the tip of his tongue.  But then I fell in love with my husband all over again.  Because he laughed & said: Yup.  We're playing the long game."  Laura goes on to say, "Playing the long game means keeping the end before our eyes.  For most of our lives & our kids' lives (God willing), we will all be adults together.  Isn't that a radical thought?  The long game looks up from the ground we're walking and remembers the whole road is what counts.  A full family life not just for now, but for always.  No one I know went to law school or med school because they wanted the grueling years of the beginning.  They were playing the long game...The long game is vocation's view.  It doesn't dismiss today; here and now is always a part of the whole.  But neither does it lose out on the greater good for a smoother short-cut."

I don't think I've ever read a simpler or more beautiful essay on the beauty of family life--and how grateful we should feel to be blessed with as many children as God gives us, in spite of how tough those early years in the trenches can be.

My husband always used to say that you had to be willing to have your children dislike you sometimes, while helping to guide them (and often having to discipline them) through the various difficult stages of their childhoods and young adulthoods.  But again, if you were thinking of the long game, being willing to NOT be their friend all the time when they were young made it so that you could have the joy of being friends with them when they were adults.  (I wrote about this once here at the blog, long ago.)

Anyway, moving on to the purpose of this post: to show you how our long game is turning out so far.  To show you that, even though our four oldest sons were born in four years and then there was a five-year gap before the arrival of son #5, they have now become equals and good friends as adults.

When our youngest was learning to talk, he would light up and scream with joy "Dies! [Guys!]" every time he saw his brothers.  They were his heroes and role models, and he spent most of his young life in a frantic game of catch-up.  As I was going through all of his notebooks and papers at the end of his freshman year and trying to figure out what to keep and what to toss, I found the most touching journal entry in his English notebook and I had to save it.

Well, I would say he is 100% "one of the guys" now.  At his rehearsal dinner, one of his older brothers announced that it was time for a "brothers shot."  Now, don't get me wrong--I am not a proponent of irresponsible alcohol consumption, in general.  But this was more of a rite of passage, a ceremonial type of shot, one that celebrated the fact that the youngest in the family was now going to join his brothers in embracing the vocation of marriage (and hopefully one day, fatherhood).

That picture up above?  That's evocative of a wonderful--and relatively short--season of our life, one that I still occasionally miss and think of with nostalgia.  But I wouldn't trade where we are now for all the tea in China.  That was just the short game.

This is what the long game looks like.
Son #2 could not make the wedding, due to family circumstances; but our youngest son's bride-to-be gamely
filled in for him.

So don't be afraid to blink, mamas.  It will be okay.  Yes, there is some truth to that oft-cited adage "little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems."  There will still be tough seasons--because this is the valley of tears, no doubt about it. But you and those kids you raised will weather those seasons together, as adults; with a strong family and even stronger Faith, it will be okay.  In fact, it will be more wonderful than you could ever imagine.



  1. The fullness of a young mother's heart as her child snuggles with her,loves her, needs her is rivaled by the heart of a mother who knows her children as adults, still loving her, still needing her love. We are so blesed.

    1. I love the way you put that!! You are a writer, Cathy. (If you start a blog, I will read it!) ;)

  2. What a great perspective. I love it.

  3. Every time I look at my sweet kids and think they're growing too fast I will heed this reminder. There is so much goodness to come. Ug, I just want to go pick my guy up from school right this second and hug him big. I will settle to smiling at him at All-School Mass in an hour I guess.

    1. Don't get me wrong, there are times when seeing pictures of my boys as little guys really tugs at my heartstrings and gets me misty-eyed. I miss being a mom to little people. But now I get the joy of being a Grammy, which is pretty awesome. And our grown boys are just the most delightful adults. I'm so proud of them men they've become. It's hard to see them have to go through adult problems and worries, but every season of life comes with challenges. I just really do appreciate the season we're in now.

      (But definitely, get as many of those hugs in as you can!!!)