In the third book of my middle grade series of fantasy fiction, I created a character named Gus who has two magical powers, and one of them (spoiler alert…) is time traveling. Gus explains to Dooley, my protagonist (and fictional fifth child), that he can hop from one time to the next, then hop right back. Dooley had suspected there was something unusual about Gus, the elderly custodian at his middle school, from the first time he saw him in the school hallway due to the sudden change in the old man’s appearance. Like a flicker, his wrinkles would disappear and Gus would look young again, but only for a second.
Eventually, Gus reveals his unique ability to Dooley. “That’s why my face can sometimes look younger. It’s the effects of fooling with time,” Gus tells him. Like most fiction which involves time traveling, the reader learns that it’s best not to mess with the linear function of time. Some things are just meant to run their course.
I’ve been thinking about Gus lately as our family nears several big milestones—our older son graduating high school and one of our twin daughters getting married this month, and next year, our other twin daughter getting married and our youngest son starting middle school.
It’s a lot for this tender mama heart. In my foolishness, I still think I have that unlined, youthful face—the one my husband first saw when we fell in love nearly three decades ago—then I “time travel” back to the present (or look in the mirror…) and see my reality. My four kids aren’t babies anymore. They’re all as tall or taller than me. They’re making their marks on the world and looking forward to bright futures. This season has a lot of sweetness, but it still brings me to my knees in wonderment. I ask: Where did the years go? Did I time travel to this year and miss everything? Then I see a photo or spot an old stuffed animal or baby doll and I know it all really happened. The birthday parties and days home sick and field trips and reading chapter books before bedtime all happened and I was there. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.
Psalm 31 gives me the framework I need to get through these next few days and months. “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” This season, like all time, belongs to God. I’m enormously grateful for His blessings and the safety of His hands.