I know I don’t look a day over 36, but as of today, hubby and I have been married for 30 years. Thirty years! Naturally, we seized upon the excuse to have a party, complete with tea, cakes, and the odd glass of bubbly.
This past week, we’ve also been celebrating our middle child’s graduation – along with her first job offer in her chosen career – so it feels like we’re caught in a time-warp between holding on to precious memories and excitement for what the future holds.
As I was thinking about this, I came across a post I wrote for my own blog a while back. It seems to fit the mood of the moment, so – with apologies to those of you who’ve seen it before – here goes:
About this Ecclesiastes bloke…and his “time for everything” speech.
Of course, it makes sense on one level: I get the idea of our lives running in seasons – well, mostly plodding, these days – and I understand the need for balance.
It’s just that my life…isn’t.
Balanced, I mean.
So: could we just go through a few things?
This first one’s okay: “a time to be born and a time to die”. I’ve no quibble with that…apart from the rather obvious one about the being born feeling much more exciting than the dying bit. Yes, I know that’s when I get to be with you forever, but eternity is such a big word that I can’t always get my head round it.
Then there’s verse four: “a time to weep and a time to laugh”. Surely I’ve done enough weeping now? When does the laughing bit start, that’s what I want to know? Mourning seems inevitable as I get older…but I’ve tended to avoid dancing since my teenagers started giving me despairing looks.
“A time to keep and a time to throw away.” Hmm, I’m tempted to pin this one up in my kids’ bedrooms, although they’d only read the first part. If I’m honest, they’re a lot like me in that regard. You know I hate to get rid of anything if I think it might be useful in the future. (Which doesn’t really explain why my wedding dress is still hanging in the wardrobe, at least three sizes too small for me and hopelessly out-of-date.)
So, could I make some suggestions, Lord? A twenty-first century, middle-aged kind of list?
There’s a time to enjoy being size 10, and a time to understand that stretch-marks are a badge of honour.
There’s a time to nurture your children and a time to let them go.
A time to be their personal chauffeur and a time – gulp! – to hand over the car keys.
A time to hold their hand as they balance on a wall, and a time to wave goodbye and pretend to smile as they move into student digs.
A time to be young and full of energy and a time to realise that sitting down with a freshly-brewed cup of tea is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
There’s a time to have big ambitions and a time to recognise that not all of them will be fulfilled (and that that’s okay).
There’s a time to make plans and a time to acknowledge that your plans are always better, anyway – so maybe my plans weren’t that important to begin with.
A time for confusion and upheaval and a time to see that if I have you, then I have everything I need.