I grew up in a town without a caution light. Where everyone still pulls to the side of the road for a funeral procession, no matter how long it takes or where they’re trying to go. Everyone knows everyone, their parents, and their grandparents. Even though there were no secrets or privacy, there was always a place to find peace. In an open field, on the lake, down a dirt road, on the ball field, or underneath a sky so dark that every star could be seen. As small as my town was, there was always space-wide open space. Room to breathe, think and feel.
Growing up, I hated the smallness. I hated the way every major misstep was public knowledge. I hated that rumors spread like wildfire through such a small community. I hated that we had to drive out of town for groceries, or even to get gas after dark. I hated everyone knowing everything all of the time. I suppose I was a typical teenager and hated a lot of things!
It’s been twenty years since I graduated from high school and left my little town. At the time, I couldn’t wait to leave for college and live my life freely, out from underneath the small-town microscope. I dreamed of basking in the anonymity of a college town.
Now my own children have entered high school, and I am a walking panic attack trying to navigate their teenage years. My tiny class of thirty-six pales in comparison to their 3-A high school. It’s too big, with too many kids to keep up with. They are at the age where they’re entitled to some freedom, but I still need to know where they are, what they’re doing, and who they’re with at all times. But there are so many kids, so many names…it’s impossible to know every child and their parents. It’s mentally exhausting even without the added stress of social media.
I’d give anything to have the smallness back now; for my kids to live in a community where people are so personally connected and deeply intertwined and have been that way for generations.
Everything I hated as a teenager is exactly what I want for my own kids now. “You’ll understand when you grow up and have children of your own.” I’m not sure truer words have ever been spoken. Hold on mamas-these years are as short as they are hard, and our time with our babies is almost up.
As seen in Modern Grace Magazine