Today I bumped into a reality check. This is our daughter's 40th birthday. She is our third, not our oldest child. I look at our three "middle age" children and wonder how this can be.
"Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don't remember growing older, when did they? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small? Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset - Swiftly flow the days. Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers blossoming even as we gaze..." (Fiddler on the Roof).
After all the birthdays I've had I've sort of become immune to them. They can come and go without making me feel any older. It's the numbers on my children's ages that make me catch my breath and think surely there must be some mistake. But they are starting to turn gray so maybe the numbers are right.
It doesn't seem long at all since I turned 40 but life has changed considerably since then. On my 40th birthday my youngest child was a four-year-old preschooler and he had five older siblings still under our roof. One by one they left the nest, five by marriage and one by death. Every time one left there were changes within the household. Now we are back where we started with just the two of us rattling around in the house.
Every time I entered a new stage of life I thought it was better than the one before. I couldn't imagine it until I got here but this empty nester stage is the best yet. It's only when I stop to think how the numbers of my children's ages are ratcheting up that I get scared. I'm not trying to deny I'm over the hill but the further I go down the other side the faster the ride. And this thing doesn't have any brakes! It just keeps rolling along, "sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset . . . "