Eric Schuck: Celebrating time and milestones

In my head and my heart, our kids are still little.

They aren’t, of course. In fact, over the next month, all three of them will graduate – from graduate school, college and high school, respectively.

Yet, try as I may, a younger version of each of them still holds fast in my brain.

I feel my oldest sleeping on my shoulder as I do midnight laps around our apartment in Pullman. I hear him garbling “Anchors Aweigh” and the Washington State University fight song in lieu of lullabies I did not know.

I sit in the Newby cafeteria with my daughter as she squares her shoulders and sings “I’m a Little Teapot” in a voice so clear, strong and true that I still don’t know how she found it in our gene pool.

And our youngest? To me, he runs headlong into Hawaiian waves, spinning and crashing in the surf, laughing riotously at jokes only he hears.

Some of those memories are now decades old. Yet here they are, always at the front.

What can I say? Time truly is slippery stuff. Unfortunately, the only surefire way to know more of it is to have less.

That thought has been with me quite a bit lately. Don’t worry, though, this isn’t some maudlin middle-aged reflection on mortality. It’s anything but, actually.

Rather, it is a celebration of what time, in all its peculiarity, gives us. And what we create with it.

We all encounter pivot points in time, indelible moments where decision and destiny coincide, and the memory of an instant serves to forever provide both context and definition to life. Wordsworth called them “spots of time,” and honestly, I cannot think of a better phrase.

They surround and anchor us, giving value to the passage of time. For each memory carries not just a record of events, but also an emotion.

The best memories feel so much.

More critically, we almost invariably understand them only in their passage. That is, the import of a moment reveals itself only once it slips from us.

Sometimes, though, fate graces us with more. Some days, time reveals exactly what we made of it.

Like I said, each kid is graduating soon. Each is approaching a spot of time that, while neither truly a beginning nor an end, definitely signals a change.

The coming month promises to bring so much transformation into sharp relief.

Marveling at who they are becoming, I look in awe and wonder, achingly proud. And while I can scarcely wait to see what is next for them — in order, it’s job, graduate school and college, I also very much want to embrace this instant.

I want to add this “spot of time” to all the rest. For at this place, and at this moment, I know how much our kids have been the best of our time. They are all so very amazing — and, let’s note clearly that they take after their mom.

None of this is unique, I know. Lots of families will mark milestones with the Class of ‘23, and quite a few parents will thus find these same moments, if not more, rattling around their brains.

Let’s take this opportunity, though, to revel in the commonplace.

Celebrating children growing up well, watching them progress from one moment to the next, definitely warrants a parental victory lap. Take it — and forge some great memories along the way!

Guest writer Eric Schuck holds a Ph.D. in economics from Washington State University and a professorship in economics at Linfield University. He’s twice been honored with Fulbright Fellowships to work and study abroad, once in South Africa and once in Lebanon. An officer in the Navy Reserve, he’s also served a pair of active-duty military tours in the Middle East. A proud Scandinavian by heritage, he makes his home in McMinnville with his wife and three children. 



Very nice! Excellent reflections.

Scott Gibson

Well said, Eric. These moments are gems that we get to carry with us for all of our lives. What could be better?

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