My mother in law is in the nursing home for at least a little while, and Rickey and I made our usual nightly trek last evening to visit. As has often been the case lately, we ran into some of our friends who were also visiting their parents. Suddenly, I was reminded once again that whether I like it or not, life truly is a cycle, isn’t it?
Most of us became friends as young married couples, our babies about the same age. We met in doctors’ offices, and we discussed baby food, immunizations, and potty training. Before we knew it, we were sitting in the bleachers watching those same slightly older babies as they kicked a soccer ball down the field, their dads often racing alongside them as they shouted encouragement.
Then, almost before we turned around, we were meeting over playground equipment, school picnics, and PTA meetings. We worried over whether teachers were kind to our children, whether they were reading at the correct level, and just who should be their friends. And, of course, there was little league and those dads who suddenly became coaches.
We were room mothers, fund raiser moms, slumber party queens, and we were sometimes called upon to referee the scuffles between our sons and the hurt feelings between our daughters. Most of all, we were friends.
We survived junior high and all that comes with that often trying age, and our kids began to branch out into their various interests: cheerleading, twirling, football, basketball, band, and choir. And there hovered in the background were we, trying to understand those babies who had suddenly grown junior high horns, both cheering them and threatening them…sometimes almost in the same breath.
It was with a tear or three that we watched as they learned to drive and against our better judgement, we allowed them to put wheels on the road, and we learned the true meaning of prayer.
And then on one Friday evening in May, a single piece of paper announced that it was all over, the biggest part of our job done…and we looked up only to realize for the first time that while we were running the race that is rearing children, our parents had been growing older themselves.
Without even realizing that it was going to happen, life changed and no longer do any of us have much time for each other, having been suddenly thrown into a world of adult children and aging parents who take most of our time. So…we grab a short chat or a quick wave as we enter or exit the nursing home, and sometimes we take a second to bemoan the fact that we never see each other anymore…and I suppose we all wonder what comes next and just where we ourselves fit into this cycle that truly is life.