Saturday, August 20, 2016

It's not nothing

A friend shared this article on facebook and it really resonated with me. As I am just on the edges of this new stage of parenting adult children it is becoming very clear to me that these are veryK new waters that I am treading. There is something so predictable when kids are young and in school. They are dependent and needy but it's familiar and predictable. You get a wee taste of your new life when they get their driver's licenses (2 down, 1 starting the process in a few weeks *ack*) because they don't need you the same way and you don't always know exactly where they are. You pray, and pray some more, and know that this is exactly what you desire for your kids during all your parenting years. Kiandra has given us a real glimpse of what life will be like when all our kids are adults. She has prepared us for what life will be like when a bedroom sits empty when she spent 3 months in France and various last minute trips to camp this summer. Her new credit card has meant that I no longer order her things online and then have her pay me back. Packages arrive that I have not ordered. It's a strange feeling to be the mother of an adult with growing independence. Kezia will jet off to Ottawa next month on a trip through school that we had little to do with in regards to planning. She applied, paid for, and chose which session to attend on her own. She will begin her final year of high school in just a few days and who knows what roads she will journey on after that. New waters. Kaden is speaking in church tomorrow and has invited a special friend to come and watch him speak. She will join us for Conrad's mom's birthday lunch after. New waters. I'm not sure if I'm ready for these new waters that I am wading into. So far it has been a slow and relatively easy entry but it is, at the same time, kind of scary. It's not nothing to raise kids to adulthood and to survive everything to that point. They take little steps away from you (and that's good!) but it's not nothing as this author writes:

"It's not a death. And it's not a tragedy. But it's not nothing,  either..." I feel like this little boy walked out the door today, not the fine young man we've raised. Today is hard. Very hard.

"I wasn't wrong about their leaving. My husband kept telling me I was. That it wasn't the end of the world when first one child, then another , and then the last packed their bags and left for college.

But it was the end of something. ``Can you pick me up, Mom?" ``What's for dinner?" ``What do you think?"

I was the sun and they were the planets. And there was life on those planets, whirling, non stop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.

And I got to beam down on them. To watch. To glow.

And then they were gone, one after the other.

``They'll be back," my husband said. And he was right. They came back. But he was wrong, too, because they came back for intervals -- not for always, not planets anymore, making their predictable orbits, but unpredictable, like shooting stars.

Always is what you miss. Always knowing where they are. At school. At play practice. At a ballgame. At a friend's. Always looking at the clock mid day and anticipating the door opening, the sigh, the smile, the laugh, the shrug. ``How was school?" answered for years in too much detail. ``And then he said . . . and then I said to him. . . ." Then hardly answered at all.

Always, knowing his friends.

Her favorite show.

What he had for breakfast.

What she wore to school.

What he thinks.

How she feels.

My friend Beth's twin girls left for Roger Williams yesterday. They are her fourth and fifth children. She's been down this road three times before. You'd think it would get easier.

``I don't know what I'm going to do without them," she has said every day for months.

And I have said nothing, because, really, what is there to say?

A chapter ends. Another chapter begins. One door closes and another door opens. The best thing a parent can give their child is wings. I read all these things when my children left home and thought then what I think now: What do these words mean?

Eighteen years isn't a chapter in anyone's life. It's a whole book, and that book is ending and what comes next is connected to, but different from, everything that has gone before.

Before was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager. Before was feeding and changing and teaching and comforting and guiding and disciplining, everything hands -on. Now?

Now the kids are young adults and on their own and the parents are on the periphery, and it's not just a chapter change. It's a sea change.

As for a door closing? Would that you could close a door and forget for even a minute your children and your love for them and your fear for them, too. And would that they occupied just a single room in your head. But they're in every room in your head and in your heart.

As for the wings analogy? It's sweet. But children are not birds. Parents don't let them go and build another nest and have all new offspring next year.

Saying goodbye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem. Because that's what going to college is. It's goodbye.

It's not a death. And it's not a tragedy.

But it's not nothing, either.

To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts.

To let go of a child, a body changes, too. It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.

The drive home alone without them is the worst. And the first few days. But then it gets better. The kids call, come home, bring their friends, fill the house with their energy again.

Life does go on.

``Can you give me a ride to the mall?" ``Mom, make him stop!" I don't miss this part of parenting, playing chauffeur and referee. But I miss them, still, all these years later, the children they were, at the dinner table, beside me on the couch, talking on the phone, sleeping in their rooms, safe, home, mine...."

- Beverly Beckham

It's not nothing but I'm thankful that today all my kids are home (well sort of, between working!) but for now they are all sleeping in their rooms and I am still able to savour this time.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...