It’s Sunday, and the four of us are together out doing errands. All of a sudden our son, Cody, mentions getting a permit when he turns 15 later this year. Chris and I look at Cody like he was crazy. “Cody! It’s only 2017!” It took a second then the look of “What the heck just happened?” crossed both of our faces. We did the math every possible way. How old is Cody now? What year is it? What year was he born? Can I borrow your fingers to help count?
“Cody, are you sure you researched the laws in Texas correctly? Do you need to borrow my Google? You must be mistaken.”
He assured us he can get a permit when he turns 15, before the year is up.
With that, I announced: “I refuse to participate in this conversation. It’s not possible.” Of course, the topic came up a few times before the day was up and I insisted I needed more time to process this information before answering any questions.
How is this happening? Why didn’t we start emotionally preparing last year?
It’s not so much the driving that is the issue. It’s the fact that the number 15 is very close to the number 18. Do you know what happens at 18?!
This ah-ha moment is not unique to us, I realize, but it’s still shocking nonetheless.
As we slowly start to discuss what 2018 might look like, I suppose it is also important to weigh in the fact we have only a few years left with Cody. The few years left might look one way, but no doubt it’s going to change drastically the year he launches his own path. We have two seasons approaching, and given they are so close together it seems we need to somewhat prepare for both. To make sure our lives remain flexible enough to adapt, and support, the changes.
After a deep breath, or a few dozen, I find myself reflecting on this past year in terms of my one on one relationship growth with Cody. Words cannot express the change in Cody’s and my heart towards each other. Chris and I have spent more moments and shared more laughs, and struggles, with the kids the past year and a half than we have probably their entire childhood. Before, we were rarely home during daylight hours, like so many families. We were merely living for the every-third-weekend day trip or twice a year vacation. All of the hours in between are a blur. Though I know those hours are important and help build us a little at a time, they seem so empty and useless. Those hours can all be forgotten and no one will miss them. Do you know how many hours that is? How sad! Talk about being thankful, one hundred times over, for our simplified life that allows us to do the thing that matters most: spending time together.
After the huge shock last weekend, I can say we are honestly, truly making the most of our time left with the kids to the best of our ability. With flaws, yes, but it is better than it was. It took a slap-in-the-face conversation to remind us we are indeed on the right path at this point in time. We know the kids so much better than we did before! We’ve had numerous “family building” experiences that companies pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for once or twice a year just to ensure teams don’t fall apart. We experienced it weekly, if not daily.
During our time on the road, we built a team that is stronger than I ever imagined. No amount of added bonus time between year 15 and 18 could ever amount to what we experienced and learned with and about each other. No amount of added bonus time could grow our love, respect, and trust for one another if we haven’t already set aside time regularly to be completely present and attentive. Lucky for us, we are in a small space and spend much time together to constantly practice baby steps of improvement.
To my son that is excited to get his driver’s license and ready to embark down the road of independence:
I promise to continue to put forth as much effort in studying, loving, and supporting you for the remaining time you are under our RV roof as I’ve done the past year and a half. I promise to make the most of our time. I promise to let you teach me just as you let me teach you. It’s been an amazing journey. Let’s not stop. Let’s keep going! Let’s all four of us continue to grow and strengthen together as a family and as caring individuals.