Changing of the Guard

Pregnancy paired with old home movies is pretty much guaranteed to evoke tears.

My father-in-law transferred all my parents old home movies onto DVD this spring, so I recently watched them for the first time in years. I wanted to see myself at my son’s current age – how we compare in both appearance and temperament.

What I found instead was a deep well of complexities: sweet memories, confabulations, and a new appreciation for the fact that this life moves incredibly quickly.

If you pause to think about it, it’s a strange thing to survey a room of family and friends decades before – to watch them with hindsight before they knew what was ahead of them. We watch old home movies as a snapshot of a moment in time, but they’re far more moving than a simple picture. I caught myself noting each persons expressions, nuances, clothing, and so on. I could not help but think on how each person is still the same, yet how much around and within them has changed. Illness, heartache, divorce, and conflict, as well as the joys of children not yet known, love found, and hopes fulfilled.

I watched my grandparents at the peak of their lives – vibrant, healthy, celebrating their children and new grandchildren. They glowed and they loved in an extraordinary way. My grandfathers have since passed, and my grandmothers still have moments with my son where the same women I see in those videos shine through. Yet so much has changed, and aging can be an elusive, subtle, and painful thing.

I cannot help but think about how my parents are now in their shoes – the shoes my grandparents wore in the 80’s and 90’s. And my husband, siblings, cousins, and I, we are in my parents place. The guard is changing. It’s a low and unspoken hum of transition. Nonetheless, we all know it is happening.

For some reason I still feel like the youngest generation, the one to be cared for. As a teenager I thought I’d be ready to carry the torch at this point in my life – I’d feel prepared, embrace the role of parenthood in regard to extended family, say goodbye to my grandparents with grace knowing they’d led long and full lives, and efficiently host holidays with joy.

The truth is, I feel none of those things as much as I thought I would…or should. Part of me wants nothing to change. I’ve watched those old home movies so many times in my life, but never before as a mom. They mean so much more now. Treasured moments and memories that I want to savor forever, but I know it’s impossible to hold on.

Time moves forward. Sometimes my husband and I find ourselves looking forward to the next month, next year, next job, next house – but in what seems like the blink of an eye, and God willing, we’ll be entering into grandparenthood.  We will never ever get these days back. We have no idea what’s ahead. That can be a fearful thing, but also exciting and humbling as we trust God with each day.

It’s time to fully step into the role we are in today. To put aside our selfish and discontent tendencies and fully accept where we’re at. Because where we are is a beautiful place to be. And one day, I hope my boys are watching home videos of us, wanting to forever savor the moments and memories of their childhood too.

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