Practicing Parents

Sweetness is Finite

cherry blossoms

~by Christine Gough

After two months of immersion in something slightly embarrassing (binge watching the entire Gilmore Girls series), I am finally pulling myself out of hiding and rejoining life.

With the end to Gilmore, Season 7, Episode 22, I am able to dig back into reading. Many library holds went unchecked out or ended up overdue as I sided with “just one more Gilmore Girls episode…” over picking up a book. First up, though? Anthony Doerr’s Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, & the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. Doerr also penned the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the Light We Cannot See. Four Seasons chronicles the time Anthony and his wife were given the chance to spend a year in Rome in 2004 with their six month old twins while he worked on All the Light. From the moment I cracked this book open, I was immersed in the world of Rome…the sounds, the architecture, the history, the smells and food. All the while paired with parenting littles and the unique challenges that brings to travel and daily life….and sanity.

The book is organized into seasons and at the end of the first section about Fall, Doerr writes,

“I’m thankful that everything sweet
is sweet because it is finite.”

And my breath caught. Everything is truly sweet, because it has limits. Sweetness is finite. Boundaries make the special things in life…just that. SPECIAL.

The last episodes of Gilmore Girls were so poignant and sweet for many narrative reasons. But mostly, it was the knowledge that the end was coming that kept taking over my thoughts. It was a slippery slope running quickly towards…the finale. The final visions of characters. The “end” of story lines. No more insanely witty discourse. No more Lorelai or Rory. No more Luke’s Diner.

As parents, some sweet moments are truly sweet because we know there is “an end in sight”. Diapers, spoon feeding, babbling, sleepless nights?!? There are times they feel all the more precious because they truly are finite. Our children will develop. Learn to talk. Eat independently. Walk on their own. Communicate without us looking over their shoulders.

We are moving into the season of Spring and it is a time of new growth in the world around us. In classrooms, students are preparing work, taking statewide tests; teachers are assessing data in preparation for parent teacher conferences. The church calendar tells that we are Easter people, living in a time of resurrection. Flowers are pushing through the soil to paint our yards in color. Spring cleaning means taking stock, letting go and “clearing the decks” of the old. In our lives, though, spring cleaning might mean leaning into what lies ahead, the new life we wait on. And, it’s time to take stock in the sweetness of the finite.

Before relishing the sweetness of the endings, I believe we must also take a deeper look at what is ending. When we push ourselves and our children into the new thing…..new sport season. New grade level. New friendships. New developmental stages and expectations. New adventures. New responsibilities. Well, we can lose sight of that crucial moment of reflection.

So this year, as we roll into Spring and the newness bursts forth around us, stop and take a minute to mark and remember the sweetness of the moments that have passed by. Help your young ones to mark and remember the many things they have accomplished, tackled and worked through. The hard challenges that have felt impossible in the moment just might have offered enough disequilibrium to lead to new growth and development.

May we sit in moments of sweetness and take note of our surroundings, knowing that the finiteness of the moment is a gift. It is also a reminder of God’s overarching love—the one true infinite element. We are hemmed in by it and held in it. God’s love holds us through each moment and links the days together. May we hold out these road maps to our children and ourselves to see how our journeys, while made up of many endings, are part of a much bigger adventure. And adventure full of much sweet finiteness.

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