Life happens and it happens fast. We hear that growing up from our parents, but somehow it doesn’t seem to sink in until we are older and parents ourselves. Cherish every moment with those kids people tell us, but too often we get caught up in complaining about messy rooms, stinky socks and homework not done.

Today I will load up my 19 year old son to drive him to the local Marine recruiter’s office as he will begin the next chapter of his life. I am excited to see him begin his life, follow my steps as a Marine and make the transaction from teen to man. While my excitement is sincere, there is another tug that pulls at my heart and that is, knowing that he will begin the next chapter, is following my footsteps and is transitioning into manhood. Yes, the same things that excite me also tears at my heart; the same as for most of us who have the privilege of being a parent.

The words of all the people in my life who told me to savor every moment comes to mind as I sit in the quietness of our living room waiting on Blake to come out of his room for the last time to say, “good-morning dad.” I remember the simple things, rolling a ball with him across the empty room of a new rental house in St Lois, running through the woods playing hide-n-seek in Tennessee, and watching him at the local skate park in Texas doing things on his bicycle that would cause any parent to cringe. It’s not only the good times, but also on the more challenging times that come to mind; the years of trying to get him to keep his grades up, getting Blake to call so we would know he was alive and my many speeches to quit speeding in his car.

As I reflect on these and much more, it comes to mind that raising our children seems to be like baking a cake. There are ingredients that are sweet and delicious, yet there are some ingredients that tasted alone will make a person sick. While these important ingredients taste terrible as a single element, when we take the sweetness and the bitterness, mix and bake, the end result is an irresistible dessert.

As parents we should always remember, it’s not just the good times that make life with them enjoyable. Without the bitter ingredients the outcome just would not make life as tasty. Keeping perspective of the fact that the dirty clothes on the floor, empty soda cans left out or even that unexplained dent in the car just isn’t that big of a deal and is actually what makes raising kids rewarding.

After lunch today my wife and I won’t have to worry about things getting messed up again after cleaning. I will not have any more screwdrivers or pliers missing and my phone will be absent of his text telling me he is okay and is headed home.  The ingredients have been mixed, baked and the cake is done. What an incredible reward as a parent. I love you son.

For you who are still in the process of mixing the ingredients as parents…Savor every moment, enjoy every event and don’t take the things your kids do too seriously…remember it takes both the sweet and bitter to bring your children to being who God wants them to be.

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