I grew up listening to country music. Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells, and many more were household names to me. I was good at memorizing and had the lyrics in my head to literally hundreds of songs. I only had to hear the first few notes to know which song was about to be played. I sang words whose meanings I didn’t even know—which was probably a good thing! Years later, I still can recall most of those old time lyrics. They stir memories deep within. Some are happy and some are not so happy, yet all are a part of what shaped my thinking. Lately, a particular set of lyrics have been playing in my head. They come from a more recent era of songs but still old enough to be considered classic country. They were sung by Kenny Rogers sometime in the 1980’s. They say the following:
“My memories from those days all gather ‘round me,
What’d I’d give if they could take me back in time.
Oh it almost seems like yesterday. Where do the good times go?
Life was so much easier twenty years ago.”
Twenty years ago.
Today, especially, my mind and heart are wandering back twenty years.
The year was 1994. I was a busy mom of a four year old boy, an almost three year old girl, and an eighteen month old toddler boy who didn’t know what the word sleep meant and had more energy than a case of Rockstar. I was also fairly fresh off the loss of our sweet little girl, born into heaven. My days and nights were a blur of diapers, bottles, laundry, toys, and Barney the dinosaur. Oh, and we had also just moved our family of five (and unbeknownst to us at the time but soon to be six) to a very small 900 square foot house that was not insulated and already housed a few families of mice that weren’t happy with our taking up residence. The day we moved, the temperature was nine degrees. Yes, nine degrees and because it was Buffalo, NY, there was several inches of snow on the ground. Did I mention that this house wasn’t insulated?
Twenty years ago. The line from the song asks, “Where do the good times go?” and then states, “Life was so much easier…”
Really? Can I honestly read the above paragraph and agree with Mr. Rogers that life was easier twenty years ago?
I didn’t think so at the time of course. Life is funny that way. We don’t seem to be content with where it has us, yet we wish for that time back after it is gone. Perhaps this is what Solomon was referring to when he proclaimed that all is vanity. Regardless, at the time I was probably too tired to dwell on all of it. As moms do, each fire was faced as it erupted. It was put out in order to free myself to face the next one. Whether that fire was laundry that was always needing to be done or a meal that needed to be made or tears that needed to be soothed away, my days were filled to the brim with the busyness—and privilege—of being a mom.
Only I didn’t see it as a privilege then to the extent that I do now.
Fast forward twenty years to the current year of 2014. Of course I’m still a mom, but those little faces no longer come to me for every little need. Those little bodies have grown into wonderful young men and women, one of whom will have her own little baby to bless her life and busy her days in the spring. Today, November 2, 2014, my nest will be officially empty. The last bird is spreading his wings to fly into this world to make his own nest and find his own way. Twenty years ago, I used to think about this day and look forward to all the peace and quiet I would have. Finally, there would be time to do something I didn’t feel had to be done. Toys no longer cover our carpet, Barney no longer sings from our television set, laundry is easily done in a matter of hours not days, and little cheeks wet with tears no longer come to mommy to be hugged away. Now, the tears are on my own cheeks as I think back to those days twenty years ago that were so full and busy—full and busy with good things, with God things. Four little lives entrusted to me that started twenty four years ago. I swear I blinked my eyes and they were taller than me.
Today, as we load the moving truck with the belongings of this departing bird, I will try with all my might to fight back the tears. He is excited, as he should be. He will now have his own space to set up as he desires. He will be responsible for the money it will cost to heat it, to furnish it, to keep the lights turned on and have food in the cupboards. It is what is supposed to happen. Birds don’t stay in the nest forever. God didn’t design it that way. He gave them wings so they could learn to fly, so they could go out into this world and build upon the foundation given to them by mom and dad. This momma bird will miss him, though. I never imagined that releasing them would turn out to be SO much harder than the busyness and exhaustion that came with the younger years.
It almost seems like yesterday… twenty years ago…a full nest to an empty one in the blink of an eye.