Young Eagles

As Kathy and I have aged (yes, I’m afraid it happens to nearly all of us) we have noticed a troubling trend: that our children tend to grow into their teen years, start driving, develop their own distinctive interests, and eventually leave the house. This last school year has been unusually quiet, with Joshua, Rachel and Daniel all away at their colleges.

That is not to say that David and Sarah are TOO terribly quiet. David plays the piano (and occasionally the drums) and Sarah can be counted on to fill the house with the sound of her Les Miserables soundtrack day and night. But it cannot be avoided: there is a big difference between five children and two, if only in terms of the noise they make stomping up and down the stairs and slamming doors.

When the kids were growing up, we worked hard to foster a strong sense of family identity, favoring relationships inside the family over outside friends or interests. It seemed to us that if our children could become lifelong friends with each other, this would be a good and precious thing. And so we scheduled family movie nights, celebrated every possible occasion, played lots of games, and generally strove to make our home a warm, cheerful, fun place to be.

Joshua helped me sample a fresh batch of smoked brisket ...

Joshua helps me sample a fresh batch of smoked brisket …

And yet, the kids had different inclinations, and the age and maturity gaps between them sometimes seemed insurmountable. As our boys have grown into young men, and our girls have blossomed into young ladies, their interests have typically diverged even further. Kathy and I sometimes worried whether our kids would choose to be close to each other after they were grown.

Now, as the college kids are returning home for the summer, a new and delightful joy has gripped our home, as our kids rediscover and enjoy each other, more than ever. Whether it is Daniel teaching Rachel how to ride a longboard, or watching all of them play a dice game together at the kitchen table, there is a deep and satisfying delight in seeing their relationships with each other deepened (or in some cases, reforged).

A quick game of Splendor

Or maybe a quick game of Splendor

To add to the fun, Joshua and Kelsie have arrived on a whirlwind visit from Tennessee, and my heart is full, having all the young eagles back in the nest for a few moments.

Admittedly, the 'nest' is a pseudonym for the 'table', much of the time.

Admittedly, the ‘nest’ is a pseudonym for the ‘table’, much of the time.

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A Fresh Start

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post. Last year Kathy set a goal to write or post something every day, but the ‘every day, rain or shine’ nature of her commitment (which she thought I subscribed to) felt forced and contrived to me. Right at the end of the year, we got into a sort of a fight about it, because she wanted to back-date some posts that were based on pictures which had been taken on a certain day, and that seemed a little too revisionist (shades of the Ministry of Truth, from 1984) to me. It was one of those trivial-seeming, innocent differences of opinion which suddenly turned ugly, picking up baggage and momentum from other, previous arguments, growing rapidly into a major disagreement.

So both of us (somewhat bewildered) carefully backed away from posting anything on the blog, and our joy in the project was stolen. Since then, we haven’t posted anything, both licking our wounds and wondering if to resume would be to reopen the argument. Since neither of us really understood the others’ viewpoint, we both felt a little paralyzed and yet unhappy with the status quo.

It’s been six months. I know Kathy feels unhappy about not recording the major events of our life in the blog, and I admit that I miss it, too. The blog serves as a way for me to crystallize the thoughts of my heart and to reveal that to myself and the people I love. Maybe we can start again.

There's nothing quite like an early morning and a new-plowed field to make you think about fresh starts.

There’s nothing quite like an early morning and a new-plowed field to make you think about fresh starts.

Marriage seems to involve a lot of these kind of things, where two people come together again, admitting they are different and broken and sometimes wrong, and offering at least a willingness to start again, maybe this time a little kinder and gentler. After 24 years of marriage, you’d think I would have figured this out.

I’m sorry, Kathy, for trampling on your joy in the blog last year. I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. I care about you and the fun we have as a family. Let’s try this again.


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