I am 38. I have been 38 since February and I am still getting used to the idea that I am very quickly approaching 40.
But frankly, I don’t really mind getting older. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy the little signs of age that continue to crop up out of nowhere—like the crows feet that have found their way to my eyes or the skin blemishes that have suddenly appeared on my aging face). No, that doesn’t really bother me. It annoys me, but it doesn’t keep me up nights. What does keep me up nights is the unavoidable fact that my children are growing up way, way too fast!
Every time I set eyes on a baby, my uterus aches a little. It yearns. It reminisces. Every time I see an adorable little toddler innocently tugging at his mommy’s sweater, I am painfully reminded that I will never again experience what that mother is experiencing in that very moment.
Then the crazy sets in and I start thinking about how great it would be to have another baby. (With another husband, of course. The one I have now does not share in my baby envy.)
Ultimately, my rational self prevails. I think back to my nerve-wracking pregnancies and C-sections, the sleepless nights, the diapers, the strollers, the toddler years and the potty training. And I am instantly thrust out of my momentary insanity and into the calm (relatively speaking) of the life I now have with my boys.
What I continue to realize is this: it’s not so much that I want them to be young again as it is that I don’t want them to get any older.
When my kids were three and five, I decided they were the perfect ages and didn’t want them to get a second older.
But they did. And it was good!
When they were five and seven, I said they were the perfect ages and didn’t want them to get a second older.
But again, they did. And again, it was good!
Now they’re seven and nine and this time I really mean it. They are at the PERFECT ages.
No getting older! Got it? Seriously God, got it?
I’m operating on a hunch here, but I don’t think the Big Guy is gonna agree to this.
Enter John Mayer. Yes, that’s right — John Mayer. What does John Mayer have to do with my constant inner dialogue about my aging children? Isn’t it obvious? His song, “Stop This Train” tackles this very quandary.
“Stop this train. I want to get off and go home again. I can’t take the speed it’s moving in. I know I can’t. Honestly, won’t someone stop this train?”
I hear John ask this question and I, too, want to know the answer. Throughout the song, John ponders; he struggles; he looks for loopholes. I listen intently to see if he finds the answer that I seek — some magical secret to stopping time in its tracks.
Surprisingly, he does not.
What he does find by the end of the song, however, is sound advice from his dad:
“Don’t stop this train. Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in. Don’t think I couldn’t ever understand. I’ve tried my hand. But honestly, we’ll never stop this train.”
This song, and apparently advice given by John Mayer’s dad, gives me comfort. It reminds me that growing old, growing up – whether it’s me or my children – is a part of life that should be embraced. I need to remember to see the beauty of where we are today — because, as John concludes, “Now I see, I’ll never stop this train.”
For more like this, see my Reflective Parenting posts.
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