When our kids are young it seems that some days last forever and we cannot wait for the evening to come, to tuck them into bed and slow down the pace of life for a few short minutes before falling exhausted into our own slumber. Folks tell you that the years will fly, but in the midst of the busy seasons of parenting it is hard to see the pages of the seasons turning.
This week my girl turned 21. Two years ago my first turned 21. In two short years the next will become an official adult, though in our book he is already one as he is serving his country as a Marine.
As I look back over the years it is hard to know when my girl transitioned from toddler to girl to teen and now a young adult. Was it after falling asleep on her lambie? Was it after being frightened by her pirate brother? After the tea party when she dressed like a young lady though still quite young? After rescuing 100+ worms stranded by a rainstorm or splashing in mudpuddles? Was it in the midst of a camping trip? As she dreaded growing up or maybe as she accepted that she was going to grow up and began to pursue becoming a lady with a passion?
Perhaps it came about as she trusted her life toCchrist, reached out to others around her, began to cook and bake and learn to run a house? Maybe as she joined her brothers in chores and became her daddy's girl yet retreated to good books when the work was done. Maybe it was amidst school work and learning that she was ok with having curls and dressing to suit herself, and not another. Or perhaps as she looked to the future and began to dream? As she stepped from high school into the work force, then moved on to college as her main time commitment? In the midst of summers away, seeking freedom and independence and yet seeing God's provision and protection when she was sometimes not aware of the need? Maybe it was on the river white water rafting or around a campfire or riding the backroads with fellow campers? Maybe while traveling and she answered the call to adulthood at the phone booth on the side of the road along a trip while taking a picture?
I don't know that any of us can pinpoint exactly when we transtition. Ocassionally there is an event that helps us to move to the next stage of life. I recall a walk up stairs that preceded a decision of love and movement into a new season of life. Most of the time I arrive at a new season surprised to wake up and see that the season has changed. So it has been for me in the past months. All of a sudden the house is a bit quieter, the exit sign has flashed quicker than expected. All of a sudden the days of children in the house is waning and we are seeing that which we anticipated come to pass. The relationships become more precious and we cherish the interactions, as their future quantity is undefined. We adjust to the reality that change happens, that our job as parenting another child has changed to walking through life alongside another adult.
These days we have transitioned to the reality that our girl is no longer our little girl. She has grown up. As parents letting go is always challenging, all the more so when it is your first and only- may God bless the hearts of all the firsts and onlies, as we parents learn and make so many mistakes as we learn with them, they pave the way for the siblings who follow. Our girl is now a young adult, we are learning to love in new ways. We are learning to rejoice in new aspects of life. we are learning to step back and allow life lessons to occur, no longer rushing in to intercept a fall and kiss away boo boos, though in our hearts we would love to build protective bubbles about our children, they are no longer children.
And so we rejoice in the years of the past, the sweet memories. we rejoice in the gift of children, the blessing of the relationships we have. we rejoice that each child has been blessed with good health and a life full of loving relationships. we rejoice that for so many years our nest was not empty, and the possiblity that the future generation may one day come to fill it with noise again. We live with open palms, open arms, surrendering our blessings to God and the life He would have them live out. And in the quiet of the afternoon and evening we rejoice to not be battling tired children, but our weary bodies can simply rest and cheer on those yet in the season of intense childraising.