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We've reached the edge of the Wildwood

When my oldest son was three, he was anxious to know what was coming. He'd wake up and ask what we would be eating, not for breakfast, but for dinner. He wanted to know the day's plans. He wanted rhythm. Order. He was frustrated at his inability to understand time. He always wanted to know how long until...but minutes meant nothing to him. We stumbled on the solution one day, thanks to Clifford, the Big Red Dog.

Watching Clifford was part of his daily routine. This clever little show was broken into two segments of roughly fifteen minutes each. It was perfect for a young child's attention span and he was tickled to get to watch TWO tv shows. As we drove home from town one night, he asked again how long until we were home. I told him half an hour, which meant nothing, but then I explained that it was the same as two Cliffords. Click. You could see it register. From then on, time made sense to him and he simply asked how many Cliffords things would take.

I realize now that I'm the one who didn't have a good grasp of time. I thought I was boxing it up nicely with my charts and schedules. I savored; I really did! But it flew. I started to panic when my sons were still in early elementary and their sisters were still babies. I had blinked somewhere and missed a lot of moments. It really hit me that they were growing and would be leaving and that I couldn't get those moments back. I struggled with depression and anxiety for a bit. And then the Holy Spirit convicted me through a children's story book.

We were reading Wind in the Willows. Rat was describing the surroundings to Mole and explaining the Wild Wood ahead. Mole wanted to know more. What was beyond the Wild Wood? Rat gave a sharp answer:
"Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,' said the Rat. `And that's something that doesn't matter, either to you or me."
It was the unknown.  It was scary. It was not to even be talked about. To someone else, it might have been intriguing. An adventure. But fear is crippling and it makes us unreasonable. And that's when it hit me. I was Rat.

My children were safe and secure with me in the easy River-bank days, but Wild Wood days were coming whether I liked it or not. And eventually, they would leave home. They would embark out into the Wide World, alone. And it was my job to prepare them for that journey.

I cried. My sons sat beside me, one raising an eyebrow while the other one shrugged. But it was a good cry. It was a calling. And callings come with peace.

From that point forward, I was able to enjoy the present while keeping the end goal in mind: raising young men and women who would one day enter the Wide World, equipped and confident. Our homeschool lessons took on new meaning. Math is beautiful. It reveals God's order and rightness. Science is mesmerizing, displaying God's handiwork. Latin. Logic. All of them were worthy lessons on their own, but in the scheme of preparation for adulthood, they were tools to develop in my children an appreciation for truth, goodness, and beauty.

Of course, I made a LOT of mistakes. As did they. But now, with my oldest, we stand at the edge of the Wild Wood, gazing at the unknown ahead,

"Where it's all blue and dim, and one sees what may be hills or perhaps they mayn't, and something like the smoke of towns, or is it only cloud- drift?"
Just two Cliffords ago, he was looking up at me with wonder in his big blue eyes, asking to go down the slide. And now he's a man. A good man. And I am so incredibly proud of him.