My phone dings to notify me that I have received a text. Fortunately, I am sitting in my new office – aka a breakfast nook – in my new house in our new town where we have lived for less than a month because the huz took a new job. I look quickly at the phone and see that the text is from one of my kids, and my heart skips a beat.
Is it good news? Is it bad news?
Are they doing well? Do they need something?
It is completely unfair that my children are no longer children. They are now adults, and they are in a far away place doing great things. At the beginning of the summer, they graduated. At the end of the summer, they started…something new, something wonderful, and something that does not require me.
It is unfair, but it is ok.
I have spent the past eighteen years caring about where my children slept, what they ate, if they ate, if they slept…basically what their every move has been. And now I am supposed to change how I do life while they change how they do life. As their life starts, my life…changes.
It is ok, though.
It might appear that this change from child to adult happened in one summer. And I would like to say that they are finished in their development and are ready to rule the world. But neither of those statements are true. While they may not be entirely ready to rule the world, they are certainly ready to take the first steps. More importantly, though, is the fact that they did not become ready in three months. In fact, they started to learn how to be the people they are a long, long time ago.
The huz and I were young when the kids were born…not much older than they are now. By the way, that fact scares the crap out of me! We wanted nothing more than to be good parents. We read books and hated most of them. We talked to people we respected who had great kids, and we tried to learn from them. We wanted our kids to know more than anything that we loved them, that we had high expectations, that they were important to us, and that the belong to God.
We put in hours doing all of the things that parents do. We helped with homework until the homework (especially the math!) got too hard for us. We drove to swim practice, cross country meets, and those early morning speech meets (I even became a judge). We attended choir concerts, musicals and plays, and awards’ banquets. We went to church as a family on Sunday mornings and played board games as a family on Sunday afternoons.
And now – they are far away….and it is ok.
Last weekend, the huz and I attended a family camp at Village Creek Bible Camp for the first time as a couple rather than as a family. The directors’ daughter and another family’s daughter were also missing as they were freshmen off to college for the first time as well. We commiserated some and talked about how this is the right thing for them all to be doing.
It is not just ok…it is a good thing.
Each of these new students is getting ready to do great things. They are pre-med and pre-law and pre-greatness. They are the future leaders in our country, in our communities, in our families, and in our churches. They need to hit walls, learn from life experiences, and make decisions for themselves. When they go to the wrong classroom on the first day of class, pay a bill a few days late, or miss lunch, they are learning how to handle stress, complications, and consequences. These life lessons need to happen in order for them to learn how to do adult things.
Although they think they are adults, they are actually adults in training. We, as their parents, have not given them as much freedom to experience life as we think we have. Once they are away from home (far away, in my children’s cases), there is no way for them to miss life experiences. Life will find them and will teach them…and we – their parents – are not there to keep it from happening, to make it go away, or to stand in the lesson’s way.
It is a good thing.
There seems to be a natural order of things, and this is definitely a step in that natural order. While I love my children and would love for them to live in my house for the rest of my life, I love my children and want them to do what they are meant to do. And what they are meant to do has nothing to do with living in my house forever. This moment in time, as hard as it is for me – and possibly for them – is a step toward their future.
The best thing I can do is to let go and to let them go…and do whatever they are meant to do.
I have asserted many times over that I do not ever want to stand in the way of whatever great things my kids are meant to do. I now understand the struggle that my parents may have had when the huz and I moved to Massachusetts and then Scotland in pursuit of what we were meant to do. They let us go, though, and did not stand in our way. Not that they could have stopped us…but they certainly could have made it difficult. Instead, they were ok…and they gave us the tools to help us stay connected to them.
When we say – “It is ok.” – we mean we will be ok.
So – for all of us who are doing this for the first time, I declare: we will be ok. We can stand squarely in the knowledge that parenting will never be over, but how we do it will change. We will be ok because they will fly higher as we hold them loosely. And we will stand behind them and cheer them on to their greatness. We will be more than ok – we will be thrilled to watch them grow into great people.
ps: If you see me weeping a bit now and then, it is because I am just not used to this change yet. They will be tears of joy some day…maybe they are now…