On Track.

Raise your hand if you still make plans. A ‘in five years I’m going to…’ kind of plan. Funny, it seems like those plans are for the young. Not that I’d take claim to being old…most days, anyway…but these days, it seems our plans involve Monday through Friday, not 2012-2017.

When we’re on the precipice of change, it seems to make perfect sense to make long term, strategic plans, and to lay out our path. As we get on that path, however, it becomes harder to see the bigger picture through the minutiae, and we simply find ourselves at the cusp of 40, working, parenting, married, etc. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It can just lull us into a sense of numb forward motion.

Sometimes, though, we get to be reminded of where we started and all of the experiences and decisions that have led us to the present.

This weekend was spectacular. It was filled with friends and family, just the way we like it.

Friday night kicked off with my 9 year old son’s basketball pool winner party. (Our family has an NCAA basketball playoff pool, and the winner gets to pick dinner and a movie.) Can’t hardly believe it’s taken this long to schedule, but there you go. So it was Thai food and Indiana Jones for the evening. Not too shabby. (And certainly better than the year when our daughter – then three – won a night of scrambled eggs and Cinderella. Note – don’t do these things with toddlers.) It was so much fun hanging out with our kids, enjoying conversation and realizing that they are people – really cool, interesting people in fact.

Right about the time we wrapped up, my brother and his sweet, freshly pregnant wife arrived to spend the weekend. Is there anything more fun than spending time with someone who is 15 weeks pregnant and tickled beyond belief in the magic of her own body? I think not. Having them around the house was a reminder of that phase of life when our family was just beginning to grow. The visceral excitement and terror at the thought of creating and sustaining a human being is so easy to recall when someone experiencing it is doing so in your kitchen. I got to take my SIL shopping for a couple of maternity things, and got to answer some of her questions and just sit and listen to her bubble over with plans and dreams for their growing family. What a gift to witness someone who is just stepping on to a new path. (Oh, and seeing my baby brother doing something so very adult is pretty humbling in the best possible way.)

Saturday night we had some friends over. They have four (yes, four) sons between the ages of seven and 10. Together, our six kids had hours of adventures that ran the gamut from skateboard bombing the ‘big hill’ to playing spy, to watching The Princess Bride. All while the adults were enjoying a delicious dinner, uninterrupted conversation and more wine than should have been allowed. When we looked up from the table, it was 11:30pm – and the kids were still running strong, noisily and outside.

Bad parents. Baaad parents. And very happy, very just fine kids.

They are big enough to have nights with friends, totally separate from us, totally unconnected to any kind of bedtime. Parenting Phase Two has begun, I think.

Sunday morning, I went to church by myself (perhaps there was a consequence to that very late night, after all?) It was ‘Senior Sunday’ when the graduating seniors run the service, talking about how they’ve come up in the church, the things they have learned and the plans that lay ahead in college. These kids are at the start line for their first big path – their five year plans will see them learn, find independence, perhaps meet their spouse, perhaps find a calling – or at least a career – and become the people they’ve been growing toward since their parents hit the path marked Parenting some 17 years before.

And Sunday afternoon was spent with dear, longtime friends from college. Friends who, over 20 years of new and well worn paths, have become like family. Who are working daily at simply continuing forward with their kids, marriages and careers.

Sometimes, spending time with others who are just beginning a path (to adulthood, parenthood, etc) can show you that you are right where you’re meant to be. Not at the start of anything new, but squarely and blessedly on track.

And you? What path are you on? Are you just taking the beginning steps or are you right on track?

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