My baby will graduate in a couple of weeks and leave me wondering about where the time went. It was just yesterday that his big sisters were fussing over the new baby. Now the baby looms over all of us.
Many of my “parent” friends, those good people who over the years have become friendly acquaintances, even partners in crime while hauling our children from school activity, to church activity, back to school activity, all have the same dazed look on their faces.
It’s a combination of pride, joy, longing, and fear.
The parents sending their first-borns to college have a little more fear, a little more insecurity about them, but the veterans graduating the last child to leave the nest, like me, are doing somersaults and talking excitedly about rediscovering themselves and going on adventures.
My husband and I always claimed we’d get an RV, sell the house, and leave no forwarding address.
It’s a ruse, of course.
After a lifetime of shielding my children from the realities of life, it’s not easy to flip a switch and suddenly be comfortable with being a mere bystander. The urge to control, protect, and orchestrate is still strong in this Mama Bear.
I remember that when they were small I lived my life in timelines, always looking forward to moving into the next phase because the current phase was overwhelming. It was always, “I can’t wait til they walk,” or “I can’t wait til they are potty-trained.”
It was always the next thing that was somehow going to be less work, less stress, and if you can believe it, I actually thought that the next phase would bring peace.
The joke was on me. Those early years were certainly physical work, having to keep up with energetic little people, but they weren’t emotionally hard. Oh, no.
Whatever was I thinking when I believed that a teenager with a driver’s license would bring me any kind of peace?
That was the beginning of the end. At that point I would have traded their teen-aged angst for any of the number of boo-boos I was once magically able to heal with a Scooby-doo bandaid and a kiss. Heartaches and big-sized failures were more difficult to handle.
Now I find myself a lot older, and a little wiser, and I know that whatever awaits them in the world is in their hands (and God’s). I am certainly wise enough to know that my maternal worries are probably going to begin in earnest now. Are they living in a safe place? Are they happy at work? Are their friends good people? That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to worrying about my newly adult children.
Fears for their safety and well-being aside, I also have a lifetime of aspirations that I’ve built up for them. I want them to be happy in their careers, in their relationships, in their interests, and hobbies, and financial security. I want them to have everything I think they deserve.
I want them to have a sense of balance in their lives, so they don’t become materialistic or driven by the wrong set of values.
I want them to be content.
And above all, I want them to maintain the faith that they’ve been brought up with…and know that any material success can vanish overnight, but that the real wealth of love, and family, and above all God, are priceless.
I want them to live every day as if their salvation depends on it. Because it does.
And then I will finally put aside my worries and consider my job complete.