Friday, May 10, 2024

When Your Child Grows Up

 The Headlines:


You have a baby

They grow up

Then, what?


For the past couple months, I'm waking up early.  My stomach starts to churn and my mind won't stop.  I am uncomfortable.  I am nervous. Maybe throw in excited and stressed.  It's all because my daughter is graduating high school and life will forever change as we know it.  So, maybe you could say I'm a little devastated too.  


It's funny,  I wrote about having children, or my inability to... on this blog years ago.  People still read it. I still get emails.  It's my most popular blog post/s by far and has been for years.  When I wrote it, it never really crossed my mind that one day... my babies would grow up.  Let's face it - back then - they were young, I was tired and it seemed as if they couldn't grow fast enough.  Until one day, it happened.  Grown, they got.  Overnight.  And then all you want to do is go back to when they were absolutely driving you nuts - even if it's just for a few moments.

Because now... in a few days, my daughter will graduate.  We'll have the summer.  Then, after a brief couple months (which will fly by), she's off and running.  Like, gone.  She's not staying in my state, she's heading to the deep South of our country.  She is super duper leaving us.  


The other day my husband was talking to her about crossing a busy street here in Scottsdale... saying something along the lines of - don't do it.  It's dangerous.  And she was like: "Dad - I'm going across the country in a few months, where I will be crossing many busy streets.  Without you."  Ha.  True that sister.  Because that's what happens, with parenting, you hold their little hand while crossing the street with them... until one day... they cross all on their own.  It's our job to get them to cross the street, eventually by themselves.  Then, she no longer needs us to hold her hand. 


I just want her to use the cross walk.  

But she really doesn't have to... if she doesn't want to use a crosswalk, she can deal with the ticket for jay walking.  It's time for her to take responsilbility of her own actions.  Wherever those lead her. 


There's lot of warning signals that Motherhood doesn't come with...  when you gave birth, did anyone mention you'd tear your body and be afraid to go to the bathroom for fear your insides would fall out in the toilet?  Or when your child falls, you get the bruise?  What about when they cry, tears roll down your face faster?  When they score a goal, you walk a little taller.  But if they don't make a team, your stomach hurts. And this, feels like another one of those... no one told me kinda things.  Or maybe they did but when it happens to you... you pay attention more.


When I went to college, the last thing I thought of was what I left behind.  I was just looking forward.  Focused on the excitement ahead.  Now, as parents, we're the ones being left.  I poured my heart and soul into this beautiful, precious, kind little person who became an adult before my very eyes and she's gonna take all that out into the world and go.  It feels like that's not what's supposed to happen.  But it actually is.  That is exactly what's supposed to happen.   So, I should probably just pull up my boot straps and deal with it.  

She will too.  There's no question she's ready.  I've seen major growth in these last 6-8 months.  But we were in the car a little while ago and she said: "I know that I'm 17 and growing up and moving out soon... but I still feel so young."  She is... adulthood is looming but it's not here quite yet.   Maybe because, as long as your parents are on this earth, you're always kind of a "child".  I actually don't think we should ever lose that.  The bible agrees.


Mark 10:15 "Jesus says to the disciples, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 


That statement, was apparently prompted by the disciples annoyance at the crowd of kids who wanted to see and be near Jesus.  The disciples tried to keep the children away but Jesus wanted them to come to him.  He also wants us to accept him, just as a child, accepts many things they can not see but trust.  Unconditionally, with pure joy, love and gratitude.  This, is how we should always strive to be - it's what God teaches his children and ironically what our children teach us. 


Think about that.  It's half the reason we have kids - to see the world through them.  It's better with those glasses on!


Being a Mom to my daughter - Savannah - was and continues to be a the most life changing job I've ever had... boy was it fun.  I learned more about patience, understanding, balance, motivation, deprivation, hope, kindness, frustration, compromise, selflessness and love than I thought possible.  She taught me those things and so much more.  I'm pretty sure she is a far better person than I ever was at her age.  And that's exactly what we want, right?  We want them to be so much more than we were or are.  We want all the happiness injected into them but know that won't come without pain.  And shouldn't.  For it's the pain that makes the heart sore higher.  It's the suffering that makes the situation sweeter.  This, my girl knows to be true.  She's witnessed it first hand.  So many children do as they grow.  Childhood, for better or worse, I tend to think better -  is not without battle wounds.  Thank God.


Last year, (New Year's Day 2023 to be exact) my daughter told me she wanted to build a better relationship with God.  On her own terms.  Meaning, not the way I was doing it.  Not that mine was bad.  She just knew she wanted a different plan.  She wanted to carve her own path.  So when someone she met last Summer told her about a Scottsdale church he thought she would enjoy... she went.  And she hasn't stopped going.  The lessons are very similar to the ones we've been teaching her, I think she is aware of that, but they're coming from a different source which has reinforced the foundation we built.  Because of this renewed  "Jesus Power"... she has become incredibly optimistic, centered and steady.  These are all qualities she desperately needed this year.  It would inevitably prepare her for what's to come, in college, on her own and away from her parents. 


And as we too get ready for her departure, I trust, "teach a child the way he should go...  and when he is old, he will not depart from it"  Proverbs 22:6.


We have done what we can.  We have done well.  She will do better.  She will take it from here.  God will protect her, provide for her and provoke her to do just as he plans.  For his plan is far better than any of ours. 


Okay awesome. 

So where does that leave me?  Where does that leave all of the parents who still want to hold their child's hand when they cross the street?  


I honestly don't entirely know. 


But - if I had to guess - I would say: I should remind myself I needed my Mom a lot in college.  Just in a different way.  I still needed her, and my Dad, when I graduated.  I needed my parents when I got my first serious job.  I needed them when I got married.  I even needed them when I had babies.  Shoot, I needed to hear my Dad's voice almost daily... until that wasn't an option anymore.  


Which means, I guess that need - never really goes away.  It just changes.  So I need to change, too.















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