When parents ponder: how did that happen

“I came to parenting the way most of us do – knowing nothing and trying to learn everything.” — Mayim Bialik, actress, author, and neuroscientist

Life is a path often directed by miracles. Not the least of those miracles is basking in the sunshine of watching our children raising their children while reflecting on our efforts and asking, “How did that happen?”

I better understand now a statement my mom made about the time I graduated from college. While obviously proud of her son’s accomplishments, she also added, “…there are some things I wished I had done differently.” Attempting to offset whatever it was that prompted her to say that, I laughed and said, “No need to doubt anything you did, just look at how good I turned out.”

Now at a point some years past the age at which she lamented some element of her parenting, I can understand how any parent might have similar thoughts. Maybe that was her way of saying, “How did that happen?”

Just as my mom expressed her pride, I am equally proud of both of my children for their accomplishments and the adults and parents they have become. My true delight, however, is in retelling stories about the adventures my children and I shared, often mixed with my arguably unorthodox parenting skills.

A discussion last week with a friend as parents pondering the miracles of child-rearing reminded me of a talk one night some years ago with daughter Robin.

Robin was a debater. Not argumentative—much, she just enjoyed a robust discussion on the merits of how and why. In one of our wonderful back porch chats in Pipe Creek, she and I were admiring a beautiful Texas Hill Country night sky while discussing the universe, the stars, and other miracles of creation when she asked how far the universe went. “Forever,” I said. “No,” she responded, “I mean until it ends. It can’t go on forever.”

“Why,” I asked. “Everything has to have an end,” she countered. I told her that it didn’t have to end and honestly, it can’t. She pondered that in silence for a minute then asked, “How do you know?”

“Let’s say it does end,” I replied. “What is on the other side of it? If there is a warning sign with flashing lights out there proclaiming, ‘universe ends in one mile,’ something has to be on the other side of that. When it comes to the universe you can’t have nothing.”

After a few more minutes of silence, she said, “Dad, that’s not only grammatically incorrect, but it also hurts my brain to think about it.” I told her we didn’t have to think about it. “God knows what is beyond the universe and only He could have engineered something without end,” I said. “Like time—there never was a time when there was no time.”

By this time, Robin’s eyes were glossing over. While she was still working it, I continued, “Remember the Bible verses about how God always has been and always will be?”

“Yes,” she said. “I just never thought about it this much.” Then after a pause, added, “It’s time for Star Trek and my brain needs a rest.” Leaving our rocking chairs of wisdom on the porch and heading for the back door, she stopped, turned and asked, “When I look at the sky and think about it never ending, and time being forever, it’s hard to comprehend. How does that happen?”

“Make a note and get back to me when you experience the miracle of your children,” I said. “You will learn from them.”

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune

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