Home / Commentary / A mid-40’s father reflects on parenting, freeway on-ramps, rocketships & ocean tides

A mid-40’s father reflects on parenting, freeway on-ramps, rocketships & ocean tides

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For everything that happens in life — there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven

-Ecclesiastes 3

blauer_forestOne’s mid-40s is that time in life that feels like the discombobulating anxiety one gets when you come to that never before visited, big city, freeway on-ramp.

‘On-ramps’ to freeways require just a little stress, blending into the straight line of purpose that a one-direction stream of traffic presents. There’s a bit of calm that comes from hitting the ‘open road’ when you leave the congested and chaotic street life to the straight and narrow highway.

Mid-life, like exits, is a different beast, it’s a change that requires a sudden, renewed hyper-vigilance. It’s a surprising transition that I find rarely explained or warned about by those who have come before us. Teethers, toddlers and teens dominate the glory and gory conversations about child rearing. But mid-life is often eerily, whispered about with stories of what didn’t last, fell apart, broke down or ended up in some flashy sports car. For many mid-life is a dead-end instead of an exit to new roads and destinations.

Yes, at this season of life we realize our children are like shiny rockets pointed towards the heavens, their possibilities are as endless as the universe waiting to receive their boundless lives. But we parents are like rocket engines, everyone watches the spaceship, but few remember what lifted them and then fell away.

We decrease in the joy and sorrow of watching them lift off and shoot into the great unknown. We all clap and cheer, whoop and holler and then suddenly realize that now they are completely out of our control. That moment is like mid-life, it’s an odd switch, that leaves you scrambling back to the computer or phone, waiting for a call back to ‘ground control’. Sometimes that call doesn’t come for quite awhile, for some, it never does…but for most, Houston gets it’s contact, but it’s way too long for any heart to wait.

A right time to embrace and another to part…
A right time to hold on and another to let go…
-Ecclesiastes 3

It’s hard for me to listen to Solomon, a man who could have anything he wants, talk about the vanity of everything. Does the person who has 1,000 oranges truly appreciate the taste of just one? I find the idea suspect, but nevertheless, he was able to see that life is a cycle of moments that one cannot prevent, but must learn to embrace.

Parenting is like the incoming tide of a beautiful ocean. It’s the rushing in of white tipped waves, the mesmerizing beauty of the big oceanic expanse ever  before you. The charging watery advance, crashes upon you in an exhilarating surge of ever new emotions and pleasures. It’s force always knocks you off balance with breath catching gasps and childlike laughter.

But then there’s that moment when the ground underneath you shifts direction. It’s a bewildering moment, when what has always felt safe, starts turning upon you and you don’t know what to do. This is mid-life, when the power that created life…begins to return to the sea.

Everything begins to turn outward and draws away from you. You feel the primordial pull of creation and fear often splashes into all the wonder. Almost everyone turns back to the shore in this disorienting moment, sometimes with awkward feet stumbling and bodies tumbling as we try to get back to where we were safe and in control. But if you are particularly prophetic, you know, it’s pointless to fight the undertow of life. You are destined to be swallowed up, drawn back into the darkness by the hands of those waves you celebrated. You will disappear and leave the story to be repeated again and again.

The illogical fears of standing on ocean shores, soon gives way to wisdom, as you realize, waves always come in and go out, ever stable and ever true. And like the stages of life past, you realize, that as those big children are carried out to sea, soon they will come back again with little ones with little voices, who will call your name again.

 

Eric Blauer

About Eric Blauer

I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob's Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on 'that' side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.

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