2017-02-17 / Commentary

Answering the call

40–Something

They say time flies when you’re raising children. It certainly didn’t feel that way when I was changing diapers at 3 a.m. and living on several 16- ounce Mountain Dews a day, but now that the oldest of my three children is away at college—and I do mean away (13-and-half-hours to be exact)—I can’t figure out where the time has gone.

It wasn’t long ago I was praying through the wee hours of the night I wouldn’t hear from my first child on a baby monitor that ominously and continuously threatened any hope of sleep. Now, I fall all over myself, knocking over lamps and my other children to get to my phone just to hear my oldest on the other end of the line.

A friend who already put two sons through college told my wife and I there was no business meeting, party, or anything that could stand between a call from her sons and her while they were away at school. I found that a little hard to believe at first. I mean, that’s why God invented voice mail...right?

But our friend was correct.

These days, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing; that call is getting answered. I think my wife could be performing lifesaving CPR on me, but if a certain ring tone announced a call from our oldest, I’m guessing she’d say, “Oh, sorry...I have to take this call...can someone else pound on my husband’s chest for a bit?” while she answered the phone.

Yeah, letting someone else give mouth-to-mouth to your husband seems a little cruel, but I’d understand. Having one leave the nest is a huge adjustment, and it really doesn’t matter if they’re 13 hours or 13 minutes away. Once they’re gone...they’re gone.

The bad part (or good part, depending on your perspective) is that my wife and I get to do this two more times, and one is coming pretty soon. Our middle child will be a senior in high school next year, and she’s already beginning her college search.

My son still has a few more years, but if experience has taught me anything, those few years will fly by at warp speed.

It seems that one minute you’re taking care of their every need, and the next minute you’re leaving them in some strange dorm room suddenly realizing you need them much more than they need you. It’s a weird feeling wanting to pat yourself on the back and kick your own butt for creating children clearly capable of handling their newly found independence much better than their parents can.

But that’s what makes those phone calls even more treasured.

So, please don’t be offended by someone who drops everything and everyone to answer a phone call. Don’t worry if that person plows through the living room knocking over lamps and small children to get to an iPhone. Chances are that’s a parent with a kid in college.

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