Today we celebrate a milestone. A day I hoped would take its time. But, time is exactly what brought us to it. Sometimes I can’t decide if time is my enemy or my friend. But, as the old adage goes, it keeps marching on.
I walked into your room this morning to wake you up for school, I was struck by how you covered the entire bed. Seriously, when did you become the length of your entire bed? It happened last year. Seventeen sure looks different than sixteen.
It came too quickly. Or maybe it went too quickly. I can’t understand how life seems to drag by and then suddenly you’re almost done with a season you thought would never end. It’s such a mystery to me. Weren’t you just five yesterday?
So much behind, so much ahead.
So many changes. This year will be a year of substantial growth for you. Physically you will start to look less like a boy and more like a man. You’ve already outgrown your dad. Your mind will expand as you begin to think about not just your world, but the world awaiting you. And girls. Words like college and future will be more and more common and you will be sick to death of taking the ACT.
You’ll lay awake nights with butterflies in your stomach thinking about a college visit the next day. You’ll check the mail every day in hopes of word from the scholarship you applied for months ago, hoping and praying for good news. You’ll mark the days off the calendar and dream about being done with high school.
Time marches on.
There are so many things I want you to know. Like how proud I am of your hard work and how thankful I am that you realize obedience is better than rebellion. That you choose to join your youth group in church week after week without being asked. How you volunteer your time at kids camps because you want to be a good example and in your words, “help some little kid feel good about himself.”
This year feels so much more sacred than last because it will begin the “lasts.” Senior year is right around the corner and seventeen just brings us one step closer. I almost feel like the countdown has begun. I want so much for you to grow and fly and be everything we prayed and raised you to be, but at the same time I want to capture time in a bottle and keep you small and dependent. There’s no rhyme or reason to my thinking, just want the best of both worlds I suppose.
But that’s not how it works.
Because you are my youngest, I know how this works. This isn’t my first rodeo. I understand how quickly the next three hundred and sixty-five days will go by and then you will be considered a legal adult. You’ll be off to live and experience your own life, and your bedroom will sit empty and our hearts will feel that way too.
A lot happens between sixteen and seventeen.
Not long ago you still needed me to drive you to all of your activities, this year you’ve long since started driving yourself. Last year, college was a dream, this year you’ll start receiving mail from all over the country promising you that their school is the best choice. It will be hard to choose. Last year, you still weren’t sure of your independence, this year you wear it well.
At sixteen you needed me close by, everything, all the new privileges, still felt unsure yet inviting. Like far off horizons that had yet to be conquered. At seventeen I watch as you come and go, confident in the person you have become. You’re exploring and conquering those horizons one at a time. You’ve begun to discover your wings. And you’ve realized that you can fly on your own. Just exactly like we prayed you would. There is beauty and sadness in it all.
But mostly beauty.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, there’s no stopping the clock. No bargaining with time. Let this year begin with a celebration of your life. There’s not another seventeen year old on the planet that I would choose over you. You have brought joy and silly humor to our home, and as long as you are here, we will laugh.
There’ll be plenty of time to cry later.