Monday, February 25, 2013

The Years Teach Much

Several weeks ago I shared this quote in the Wednesday Hodgepodge-

"The years teach much which the days never knew."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

People weighed in on how this quote had played out in their own lives, and I said at the time that my answer was turning into a blog post so I'd save it for another day.  

Today's another day. 

The first thing that sprang to mind as I read the quote was raising children. Mothering is so labor're chugging along changing diapers and reading books, tying shoes and helping with homework, and keeping track of piano lessons and orthodontist appointments. In a blink you find yourself gently nagging to complete college applications, settle on a prom dress, and to please slow down when they see the light is turning red. You're making seventeen thousand trips up and down dorm steps and moving the same bins and boxes in and out of storage units until all of a sudden, you look around and find yourself discussing the meaning of life with adults.

Your children are adults.

Your head knows how you got here, but your heart wonders when it was exactly that those precious minutes spent doing the mundane, the repetitive, the important but not glamorous job of mothering, became years.

You know you marked birthdays and lots of firsts.  Steps and words and school years and lost teeth. They were days, that's all, and you were caught up in the days. Caught up in counting the minutes til Daddy came home or the hours til a teenager's key turned in the lock. It was not possible to see the years when you were living them.

It is only possible now.

You see how the pieces fit together, how the things you said yes to and the things you said no to really did matter. The  home you kept, the tone you set, the expectations you established, the kisses you planted on a tear stained cheek, the encouragement you gave out loud and the private cheering you did on the inside, the prayers and the pleas and the day upon day of loving these remarkable creatures have all come together to help them become the people they are now. In the doing you became someone too.

You think about the days you wished would never end and the days you thought would never end.  Both blur together when you look back at the years. You told yourself you'd miss the baby, the toddler, the toothless 2nd grader, but in the presence of your grown up daughters you realize you don't, at least not in the way you thought you would.

You sometimes felt a little anxious at all that lay ahead...that maybe parenting a teenager would not feel quite so magical as parenting a chubby legged toddler with the jelly on her face. As the days pile into years you discover it is necessary to walk through each and every season in order to fully feel the sweetness of the one you left behind.

The years teach you what the days cannot.

They teach you love grows exponentially in a way you cannot fathom.

They teach you there is no need to miss the baby who stared back at you in wide eyed wonder or the little girl full of mischief, whose smile lit up your world.  When you look at your grown up girl she's in there still.  Older, wiser, more articulate and less dependent, but the essence of who she has always been remains. Its that indefinable something the heart recognizes that connects parent to child at age two or twenty-two or fifty-two.

The years teach us that for every season of a child's life there is a corresponding season in the life of a parent.  In the same way God made you ready to care for a helpless newborn every minute of every hour of every day, He makes you ready to step back and let these children you've raised be the people you raised them to be.

I thought there would never be a season so sweet as those early years of parenting, but I was wrong.

The years teach much.


  1. This was, by far, one of your best posts yet, Joyce! You nailed it! Thanks for making me weepy so early in the morning. I'm finding that letting go is a never-ending process, but one that reaps boundless rewards for all.

  2. I love this! I have always said all the stages have their charm.

  3. VERY true! I feel the same way! Beautifully written Joyce!

  4. Well, Joyce, you have managed to make this Momma tear up this morning. What truth! In fact, I'm going to copy and paste this over into a Word document so that I can reread it any time I want to.

    As I've said before, if you are looking for something else to do, you could write professionally. :0) I'm always blessed when I stop by.

    Have an extra happy week!

  5. The joy of children well grown is truly a joy beyond compare. You have expressed this very eloquently.

  6. Very true, and beautifully written!

  7. Truth girl. Great job at articulating what so many of us mommas have come to learn with our grown children.

  8. Sweet! (Trying to think of something profound to say, but that one word pretty much sums it up for me.)

  9. Ohhh I knew this was going to be a good one back when you said it was a separate post. It was worth the wait.

    Really lovely. :)

  10. Love you so much - thanks for loving me so well! Xo

  11. Beautiful post Joyce. I miss the years because they were so busy and at times it was difficult to take pleasure in my surrounding but I have to admit that I love my adult children. It is a pleasure I enjoy in a totally different way and the time we spend together is a deeply enjoyed experience.

  12. Joyce, all I can think to say in response is, "Thank you!" You have expressed so beautifully what so many of us feel. Your girls are so blessed to have you as their mom, and God has so richly blessed you with two beautiful, loving girls who will no doubt continue the legacy you have given them. Again, thank you for sharing.

  13. Pass the tissues, please. Eloquent post, Joyce.