Mark’s Remarks | 21 years


My oldest son just turned 21. For real. I was looking at pictures of that tiny baby a few days ago and several things were noticeable. 

Michelle and I were young, even though as parents we started later than most: age 27 and 31, respectively. We both had more hair, although Michelle still has the same amount, just a shorter cut.  I, however, lost much along the way and look now like I’ve been through a perpetual color-run in which powdered donuts are hurled at the runners. 

Hey, that’s not a bad idea. I could get into that race.

We lived in a little house back then, one with three tiny bedrooms. One had to be converted into a little nursery, of course. Since the third and tiniest of the bedrooms had been turned into a TV room, we thought we’d better purchase a hide-away couch to accommodate visitors.

In our “coming home” picture, there we sit. Two young parents. One tiny baby. On that fabulously fancy couch we had just purchased.

So much has happened since that first picture was taken. The memories of those first few days are so vivid and so familiar, as if they happened yesterday. I remember the bassinet beside our bed. I remember the soup warming on the stove, brought by a good friend. I remember us walking around the house, checking on him every five seconds, wondering if he was actually going to do anything. He mostly slept, ate, pooped and peed.   

I remember thinking we might be ill-equipped.  Funny to think we’ve made it through three more kids and they are basically turning out OK.

We are on our second house since then, having outgrown that little house and another larger house.  Strangely, our third house seems little also. We’ve had three more kids and two dogs since then. We now have not one, but two sons out of the house, and we recently fashioned their large bedroom into another guest room/play room for baby sister. 

During that time, we moved around boxes of mementos that both boys had boxed up and put in the closet. It seems like those things were hanging on the wall just a minute ago and now they are boxed up, ready someday to be gone through and taken to their own homes.

That green couch we purchased and were so proud of went through four kids and two dogs, in addition to having its cushions beefed up at St. Louis foam. We recently gave the couch to a friend who was starting a new life. It was still in decent shape, but we had moved on to other couches and it had been moved to the family room where there was already a couch. Too many couches.

As I continue going through those old photos, I see some toys and little shoes, some little hats and some favorite boy outfits in these pictures, long ago given to another baby who needed them.

Funny how those things were favorites at one time, yet they have been forgotten until we see them in pictures.

I remember when both boys had one-piece baseball outfits, always dad’s favorite because I never had to match the top to the bottom; one piece. But alas, as with all those shoes and clothes, they outgrew them quickly.

Sure, we spend a lot of time these days checking on these adult and near adult children, making sure things are OK. We find ourselves asking them questions that they roll their eyes about, and we understand our own parents a little better. We nervously say a prayer and take on the mentality that they have to learn it all  someday; with or without our input. 

We resist the urge to jump in and run their lives for them, even though it might be easier. We accept our being relegated to “we’ll call you when we need you” status with disdain but also with hope.

We look back with melancholy, with moist eyes, and we give a sigh at things we miss. However, we look on with excitement for these kids. We miss them as little ones, but their lives right now are so fun, so cool, so filled with excitement and promise, that we can’t help but enjoy the here and now. We look forward to the relationships that have already began to evolve. 

It’s weird having adult children. But, as I said, it’s also exciting.

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