Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A New Era of Parenting

This parenting gig is such a roller coaster.

Just when you figure out one stage, a new one is upon you.

We have 6 kids and I can honestly say the baby and toddler phases became 'old hat' for me.

The elementary stage was a bit harder to 'get a handle on' due to all the additional peer and emotional baggage that enters in.  But, given time and practice, we figured out how to navigate through.

The pre-teen years haven't been TOO bad. We've 'been there, done that' three times now.  Fortunately our tweens were pretty pleasant to deal with.

The teen years have also been less traumatic and dramatic than I'd have ever imagined.  Our society depicts teens to be such wretched beings that I often fretted and worried about how we'd survive this tumultuous time with our children.

But, God is good, and our teens have been, well, GREAT!  (So far.)  Not saying they are perfect.  Not saying we haven't had days of 'what were you thinking?'  Not saying we haven't had a little angst here and there.  Yet, by and large, our teens have been respectful, helpful, and quite a joy to parent.

Now, however, I find myself in a NEW ERA. The phase of parenting a college aged individual.  A grown-up, as it were.  A young man living 'on his own', out from under our watchful eyes.  No longer under our roof.

It's difficult.  I can't say it's not.

My heart hurts some days when I think of him NOT being here. Not sleeping in his bed just steps away.  Not sitting at our dinner table each night.  Not taking part in family celebrations as they come along.

It's new.  It's hard.  It's scary.

Yet, it's exciting.  It's joyful.

We're so proud of who our grown son has become.  How loving he is.  How kind he is.  His mind is keen.  His heart is big.  His faith is strong.  We couldn't ask for much more.

I had a rough couple of weeks as we prepared to move him into his college dorm.  I cried as I packed stuff I thought he might need during his time away from home.  I sobbed as I drove to town to purchase  supplies for his dorm room.  I'd mention his name in passing and begin crying all over again.

The funniest part was he's only 30 mintues away.  I'll see him on Sun and Wed weekly.  I chuckled at one point and said to Techno Genius - "Yes, I'm pathetic."

A good friend counseled me and helped me realize it's not about him moving out or being in college.  It's about the unknown. The new.  She alerted me to remember the truth.  To allow myself to mourn this 'new phase' of life, but to also move forward.  To celebrate the changes ahead.  To embrace my  new role as 'mom of a grown-up'.  She admonished me to not allow the 'fear' that was creeping in to cripple me and keep me in my boo hoo fest, but to feel the loss, cry for a time, then pick myself up by the bootstraps and 'get it together.'

She was right.  I do/did have many fears.  Did I do enough?  Did I teach him all he needs to know?  What didn't I do?  Where did I go wrong?  What if I didn't prepare him?  Did I spend enough time with him?  The list could go on and on.

As she reminded me, however, God is not the author of confusion, but of the truth.  And as Ephesians states, we are to put on the full armor of God.  We often view the truth as the most important part -- and it IS pivitol -- God deals in the truth -- but Eph 6:4 says, 'Above all, put on the shield of faith.'  ABOVE ALL!  I need to have faith that whatever I've done is enough.  I did the best I knew to do with what  God had given me at that time in life.  I loved (still do) Jacob as we raised him.  All I did in parenting, I did out of love.  I know that.  I have faith God will do the rest.  He will take the sloppy, less than perfect attempt at parenting that I performed in the years we had Jacob in our home, and he will make it 'good'.

I can't tell you how much this knowledge healed my heart.  How much this allowed me to be joy filled instead of sorrow filled as we moved Jacob into his college dorm room at the end of August.  I became a little misty eyed as we pulled away, but I never cried.  Instead I beamed with pride throughout the day, as I watched my once little boy, now grown-up unpack and organize his new living space.  Owning his new surroundings.

Our job as his parents is not complete.  Not by a long shot.  However, it's taken on a whole new dimension.  He'll be making ALL his own choices.  My prayer is he'll still turn to us for counsel, advice, but... our days of aiming the arrow are mostly past.  We've released the bow.  He's flying now. Flying on his own. We've directed him in the way of the Lord and can now only pray - and ABOVE ALL - have faith that God will keep him on the right path.