“Mom?” Jesse asked, as he wandered into the kitchen. “When I grow up and I’m a dad, can I build a house?”
“Sure,” I replied. “Maybe you could build one for you and your family to live in.”
“Wait,” Jesse said. “What?”
“Well . . . you know . . . like if you marry someone and have kids. Maybe you could build a house for you guys to live in. . . .” Sensing continued uncertainty, I added, “And I’d come visit you all the time.”
“Ummm.” (Hesitation.) “But I’d still want to come to this house a lot.”
“Of course! Whenever you wanted. It might just be fun to build one for your family too.”
Someday my kids will be ready to explore every inch of their worlds. They will head out on adventures. They will pursue dreams. They will find people and even give birth to people who they will anchor themselves to as securely as they were ever anchored to me. They will stretch, and push, and go far beyond the limits of their childhood lives. . . And they will be ready to head much much further from me than . . . our back yard. (Or even our front yard.)
And, as I watch them do it, I’ll cheer. I’ll be so grateful they are finding their way. I’ll be happy, and proud, and excited, and amazed! And also . . . maybe . . . every now and then, and just for a second, I might feel the tiniest bit . . . lonesome. Lonesome for the little folks who, once upon a time, couldn’t imagine themselves further than a back yard away from me.