Hannah, my youngest, turned five a few months ago. She was tall enough that we needed to move her out of the five-point and into a regular booster seat. Every time I went to take the car seat out, I stopped, telling myself I would do it â€œtomorrow.â€ Every day after Kinder pickup I helped Hannah out of the car, looked at the new booster seatâ€”calling to me from the porchâ€”and said we would change her seat out soon. This went on for weeks.
You see, this was no ordinary car seat. The photograph tells the story. The story of our family. The story of children lost and children found. The well-worn fabric and tattered edges hold moments of tears and joy. The deep stains tell the tale of thousands of miles traveled and hundreds of memories made. The cup holder never filled with drinks, but instead filled with treasures and trinkets and lots of binkies reminds us of the different ages and stages that have filled this particular seat during its many years of service.
Children we fostered. Children we adopted. Children who were reunited with their birth parents and children who were eventually adopted by someone else. This particular car seat stayed the course.
So yeah, it was no ordinary seat at all…
Itâ€™s liberating when your last child no longer needs you to climb across her lap to help her buckle. No more reaching behind the driverâ€™s seat as your arm pops out of its socket to pick up a toy, or undo the five-point, or grab the drink that she just canâ€™t reach.
But it is also terrifying. Now what? We have lived more than a decade reaching across the seat. Scrubbing the stains that refuse to come up. Cleaning the cup holder and all the trinkets inside.
Seasons change. It is true. But what if we donâ€™t want the season to be over? What if we have one more go in us? What if our six teenagers havenâ€™t quite sucked the living life out of us just yet? What thenâ€¦.
Eventually, I privately and unceremoniously wedged myself behind the seat, detached the anchors, emptied the trash from the deepest crevasse, and wiped the leather seat beneath with a rag and with my tears. I set the seat on the sidewalk and climbed back into my car, staring through my rearview mirror.
What if this was it? It might not be so bad, I thought. A new season.
Not a closed book, just a finished chapter. The best thing about a great book is that you can go back and revisit it over and over againâ€”enjoying the best chapters, the best moments from its pages.
Iâ€™m not sure what the future holds for our McFamily. More babies? Maybe. But probably not. More memories, more opportunities, more chances to enjoy the season we are now in? Certainly!
We can revisit chapters of our lives, but we cannot relive them. Contentment. Enjoying the season we are in. Thatâ€™s it. Thatâ€™s real life and real living. Closing a chapter isnâ€™t the end, but a new chance for growth and for change. A new season.
May we embrace the seasons as they come, living in them fully–allowing each to change us for the better.
What season of life are you in? How is it changing you for the better?