Having coffee in my favorite chair in the kitchen after doing what I have long anticipated, wondering how it would feel. Just sent my high school senior out the door with a filled tummy. As I fixed his hearty breakfast burrito filled with lettuce,spinach,ginger, sesame seeds, carrot slivers, turkey bacon, and egg, it was all so surreal. I won't bore you with the typical, "it seems like just yesterday I was sending him off to 1st grade...". But I will tell you this, I am so happy for the advise I got when my kids were young from some missionary friends in Ireland. May be the all around best parenting advise ever. It went like this :
"It is a fallacy to think that as they grow up, they need you less." This wise man went on to tell me, "No! In fact, they need you more. Why do you think there are so many rebellious teenagers? It's because our society tells us they need us less as they go into their teen years. That's when parents get busier and leave them to their own devises. Please don't do that!" he warned me. It was one of those God-moments that I am cherishing even this morning as I send Gavin off for what I am well aware is his last year home with us. I am so glad I took that man's advise. Yes, we are all busy but we have endeavored to put in the time. Time is something that once it's gone, it's gone. This kid is of course not perfect but is honoring, honest, and loves God and people in a way that is going to take him very far. This arrow in our quiver is getting ready to launch and I am so proud of the way he is preparing to do so.
A few few years ago, a friend posted on social media how proud she was of her daughter that she could trust her enough to leave her at home alone as she and her husband took a trip together during the summer. This summer, that Instagram post came back to me about this family I respect and look to for inspiration. Kevin and I took the plunge and decided to trust our boys and let them get a taste of independence while we enjoyed a trip for a few days with friends. I, like my friend had been, am so thankful that we were able to do that and came home to a house all in one piece and boys who had made good decisions in our absence.
So you may be thinking, "Wait a minute. I thought you were saying they need more time from you as they become teen-agers. Then you proceed to write of how you left them totally to themselves?!" So, the point is this: If we put in the time around he dinner table, along the way, and have a solid relationship, then we can trust them and let them test out their wings while still in our care. This way, when they fall a bit, we are there not to helicopter over them but from a safe, comfortable distance, help them get back up and try again. I think a real key is letting them feel independent, respecting their need for that while still being there to guide them. My parents were grey at this so I had really good models of this delicate balance. And am ever grateful.
Oh God, help me savor every moment this year with my senior and help every mother reading this do the same whenever they are on their journey. The ones who have college freshmen, let them approach this year with excitement and faith just as their students are. My friend said something so smart to me who has a freshman in college this year plus it's her baby. She said,"Why does empty nest have to be negative and a syndrome? What can't I just be happy like my daughter for not only her next step and phase in life but also for mine?" She is a smart one! That's why she is my BFF. 😂
My 14 year old has a big year also and starts Wednesday. It's his 8th grade year which is his last year at Covenant Christian before going to a big public high school in town. I am praying for wisdom to navigate this year with him as I know you are praying with yours. This is going to be a maturing year for him and I am so hoping to help him enjoy it instead of only wishing he were in high school already. You know how that goes!
Wherever you are, with small children? Tuck this away for later. A grandmother and already been there, done that? Share this with your kids or friends who may need to read this.
Whoever you are, I pray you have the best school year yet and this was encouraging. If you don't have a student, Happy August! For the rest of you, Happy School year! Get it off to the start you want it to be. You got this!