It was Wednesday, 3:48 a.m. Not exactly my choice of time to start the day, but it was the dawn before my kids started their second and third grade year—and more significantly for me—the dawn of the first year they’d be kids of a working mom. For the fist time in almost nine years (as of 9am tomorrow morning), I have a job. One that requires me to show up and is actually going to pay me.
I hit times like this in my life and I get a little sappy. I ponder. I reflect. I don’t sleep. By 4am, I was thinking about how fast—and paradoxically slow—the last eight years have gone; how much my kids have grown and changed and how proud of them I am; how beautiful they are. I took a trip back in time, reminiscing about how excited I was the day I quit my old job to stay home with them, and then about how surprisingly hard it was for me to actually stay home. I thought about all the times I dreamt of doing something “more significant” with my life, of all the exasperated moments I wanted to throw in the towel, have someone else labor through my days so I could spend my time with people who’d pat me on the back and sign my paychecks so I could finally remodel my bathroom.
Then, like all parents do at some point or another, I started to wonder if I had wished it away too quickly, if I had spent enough time doing the stuff that matters, teaching them truth, listening to their hearts, praying for their hurts. And all of this just because I’m starting a silly job. It’s not like I’m sending them away to college or walking them down the aisle or holding their hand with my dying breath. It’s just an end to the way we’ve done life. I’m a little nervous.
Somewhere around six, when the light starting peeking under the shades, a tune started playing in my head. One of my all-time favorites songs, the song whose title adorns this post: Closing Time. Semisonic. 1998.
You know it; right?
Open all the doors and let you out into the world
Turn all of the lights on over every boy and every girl
I know, some of the lyrics get a little dicey and the refrain shouts things that makes parents of college students cringe with fear, but if you dig a little deeper, the whole song is a bigger life-metaphor that is dripping with profundity. Ah, but for now (to my dismay), just one line–one of the best lines of a song ever–and the end of my story.
Every new beginning starts from some other beginning’s end.
Not exactly proverbial wisdom, but a small piece of truth that gave me some peace just before I started that day. Mourning an end doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate a beginning.
As I type this, I’m watching my kids at the pool. There’s virtually no one here. A few minutes ago they were trying to outdo each other on the diving board—taking turns to see who could jump higher, twist crazier, splash bigger. Now they’re laughing, diving for acorns on the pool floor. And I’m smiling because it’s a tangible picture of what I gleaned in the middle of my sleepless night. Almost nine years ago, there were no legs that could jump or lungs that could breathe under water or any kinship that makes moments like these so sweet. For that matter, there wasn’t even a pool in a suburb of Chicago surrounded by friends that I couldn’t imagine life without. All of it was a new beginning that started from some other beginning’s end.
Just like tomorrow.