“Mom, can I go swimming with Tommy and Sophie?”
The message was from our oldest daughter. Her cousins were in town, and she wanted to enjoy a final summer day at the pool. This is understandable, but it meant my daughters would miss church. So we struck a compromise, “Sure, but you have to go to chapel with Dad tomorrow night.”
“Deal,” was her reply.
My wife and I volunteer at the St. Francis Hospital Chapel every Sunday evening. We take turns, and this was my week to cover- with two guests in tow. I’m glad they came with me.
Working the chapel isn’t complicated, you spend the time as you wish, and do so in silence. I typically read a book, and both girls did the same. At one point, I stole a glimpse of my daughters, sitting side by side and reading in silence. The personality of each was on display at this moment. Anna sat up straight, legs crossed, with a book in her lap looking contemplative. Olivia looked more carefree, holding a book near her face, her legs swinging lazily with one sandal dangling from her right foot.
It made me think about the next few years, and want I want for each of them. I hope they find their place in the world, follow their passion, and embrace and enjoy each day. I hope they do grand things, but most of all I hope they are good people, and for some reason, this quiet moment reminded me that my influence over their life would diminish in the coming years. I had a false sense of security and certainty when they were younger. You pick the outfits, set their schedule, arrange the play dates, and tell them when to go to bed. But that will soon end.
Anna will enter high school next year, and Olivia recently started middle school. As a parent, I still have time to set a good example, provide guidance, and help them become adults. However, each will make their own decisions shortly, decisions that will have a significant impact on their life.
Last night was a reminder that life’s significant moments are often quiet and fleeting. I’m thankful not only for this moment but for being able to recognize its significance. As a parent, you never know what moment, experience, or memory will help your child in the future. I hope to embrace each opportunity while I can.