This month marks the beginning of the fifth year of “Time Capsules.” In that time my youngest child has gone from a freshman in high school to an adult living in Spain.
Time can seem to go by so fast. Raising children is a constant reminder of how malleable our sense of it is. There are days, hours even, that can seem to stretch on for nearly an eternity. A toddler melting down in a public space will stretch our sense of time interminably. And then, in a blink of an eye, they are grown and gone.
So here I sit, writing to you about kids, time and nature, from the other side of raising children. It is sometimes a foreign place: For the first few weeks I would walk into my now-empty house calling out a greeting into the quiet space. Now, three months later, I have stopped doing that. I have spread my puzzles over the kitchen table. Alone, I can just as easily eat at the counter, or on the couch. I go for hikes alone, not an entirely new thing, but they feel different. It doesn’t matter when I get home. I visit friends without telling anyone where I am going, and I invite friends to my house without checking anyone else’s schedule. I have become rather lax about house cleaning. It seems I was motivated by “being a good parent who taught my kids responsibility” more than a desire to clean! I read even more. I am finding my new groove.
In my new groove I have taken on a new job, one where I get to care for other people’s children. As the Before and After School coordinator at River Valley Elementary School, I have the amazing opportunity to share the values you have read about over the last four years in this space with nearly 50 children from our hills and valley. The students in our district represent a broad range of families and experiences, and I feel so blessed to be able to learn from them, and share with them every day. We practice kindness, patience, appreciation and compassion. They remind me that, even with my house empty of my own children, the cycle of life continues on. All around us people are in different stages, and there are always new little people eager to explore, engage and celebrate this beautiful world in which we live.
I encourage you, if your own little people have grown, or if you don’t have little people of your own, to find a way to spend time with young children somehow, somewhere, and let them bring wonder to you. They embrace life in a way that we, at least I, sometimes forget to do. It is all new and exciting. They haven’t yet learned to draw inward, to protect themselves. They tell you how they feel, what they want, how they want to be, and what they don’t like. They try new things and they practice skills that excite them over and over again. There is so much to learn from these beautiful young people!
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. She can often be found around Spring Green welcoming locals and visitors alike. To suggest ideas for future “Bridges” columns, email firstname.lastname@example.org.