They are carefully held at birth, some in proverbial swaddling clothes, fed often, night light turned on, homework completed, learning not to just print, small tasks are assigned to begin testing the waters, ironing and folding are folded into their growing equation.
They were taught how to hold on and let go at any early age and many will consult you about your investments and lack of risky ingenuity that now makes your retirement shaky. You watch them grow as you age.
I feel sorry for Catholic priests, brothers and sisters (including me) who have no gauge of growing older except through their own bodies. Connecting with a neighboring family is cute touch but can never replace watching a child of your own mature. A “Peter Pan” syndrome can easily become their lives – the eternal youth – that aging sometimes bypasses. But this not about us Catholic-types but about those little things who now communicate in full sentences complete with verbs and descriptive adverbs. The living room rug is no longer the center of their lives. They now realize what anxiety feels like as well as doubt. The choices you made for them now surround their lives – in the newspapers they read, partisan TV news and, of course, how you’re reading this.
You feel your age Christmas after Christmas as they enlarge their minds with their own families, jobs and waistlines.
Growing up you were surrounded by the people you’ve now become. You may have pointed to a picture on the wall and asked your mother, “Who is that?” as she proudly said that’s your great-grandmother. Soon your picture will hang behind your daughter’s couch as her daughter points to you and wonders who that person is inside a gold frame.
As youngsters we wondered who those older people were who we’d see once or twice a year laughing and talking on our couch, not sure what the conversation was about. “And, what did they do all day!?”
You’ve aged because your children have aged and now have come of age. All of your wishing and hoping for their future lives is now on display for you during a Christmas dinner. You quietly smile to yourself as you look behind the couch and wonder what space your portrait will grace.