Column: The Golden Years

I have reached the summit. Let me bask in the glow. For I know that this day is fleeting, my time on the top is short. I shall raise my arms and swirl in circles, Julie Andrews-style, while singing on the mountaintop: I have hit the Golden Years.

No, my mortgage is not paid off. I have no vacation house abroad or extra time on my hands to take up a hobby.

Yet these days are gilded, sparkling, and shimmering, and this is why:

My children are at a good age. Simple as that.

They are old enough to get themselves dressed but young enough that streetwalker-style clothing does not yet appeal to them. They still want to hang out with me. They think I’m a good dancer. More importantly, they think that I’m funny. All four can swim the length of a swimming pool, so I can sit on a beach towel and talk with my friends. No one needs a diaper. The oldest can boil noodles, and the youngest can take a bath alone. No child darts out of my car in a busy parking lot or throws himself on the floor in the checkout line of a grocery store. Not anymore.

“It’s getting easier,” my husband and I whisper across the dinner table to each other, as we sit with our four kids in a restaurant. “That wasn’t so bad,” we mumble, surprised, when leaving a theater or sporting event with the whole group in tow. “I think everyone had a good time,” we tentatively suggest after returning from a trip that involved travel by car and plane. The Golden Years have begun.

Sure, the children still make our life challenging. One pukes on the newly cleaned bedroom carpet after a coughing fit induced by laughter. Another shatters a window with an overthrown baseball. When they become ill, they go down one at a time and create a sick house for more than a week. They fight in the front yard—for the neighbors and all of creation to see. They dig deep holes in the backyard that get filled to the brim with water during a deluge. They track dirt in the house, they leave clothes on the floor, they mark freshly painted walls with fingerprints, and they have a giggling fit when they fart.

But these are the Golden Years nonetheless.

They are still young enough to believe that fart is the “F” word and that gifts come magically to good boys and girls at Christmas time. They thank God for the sunrise, and they say their prayers at night. They hold my hand, and they kiss my face. They accept our words as truth.

Yes, these are the Golden Years, indeed. I will embrace this age while I can. Before I blink, I will be managing tweens and teens with different attitudes and agendas. Mistakes will be made. The results of their actions might be harder to paint over than a dirty fingerprint. But the Golden Years are preparing me to love them through it, to be undisturbed by the hormonal surges, the tempers and the testing of boundaries to come. I can nurture these precious children through it all. I can.

Unless, of course, they continue fighting in the front yard. A mother’s love can only go so far.