It’s about 4:30 am and I can’t sleep. I didn’t really get to see the kids today. I’m just realizing that now and it makes me sad. Because I know that in just a few short years Kathy and I will have the house to ourselves.
I know our job as parents is to prepare our kids to think on their own and make good decisions…to ultimately leave home and do life on their own. The Bible says “Raise or train them up in the way they should go and they will never depart from it” and so on….I know that’s what needs to happen..that it’s a good and healthy thing. But right now, all by myself in the glow of this computer monitor in the wee hours of morning…the thought of any of the four of them leaving home feels kind of lonely and hollow. And I can’t help but wonder what kind of a job I did as a dad…and still am doing. How will they do on their own. The uncertainty of it all is a bit overwhelming.
I wanted to move to Colorado with a buddy when I was 18. And I did. My parents didn’t stop me. Oh they made sure I had a place to go to and that the car would make the trip but they let me go. I’ve never seen my dad cry but mom tells me he was tearing up as I pulled out of the driveway that morning so many years ago.
As I look back on my kids lives so much about parenting is event driven…teaching opportunities present themselves because of stuff that just happens. And because the phrase “I said so” is more of a call to action to prove parents wrong than the warning we meant it to be for their own good.
Experience, they say, is the best teacher. I guess it is…but I sure don’t want my kids to go through some of the experiences that I had…quite the opposite in fact. I don’t want my kids to touch the hot stove, I don’t want them to fall off their bikes or get punched in the nose or get hit by a car or suffer a broken heart. But a lot of that has already happened and there’s a good chance that all that and more will happen still.
In truth there is not much I understand about God except maybe a little of the “Father” part. The part that wants to love, protect and provide for his kids. The part that wants to teach and impart wisdom to help avoid the unpleasant and often painful circumstances of life. The part who wants and needs to be respected and obeyed… to be loving and to be loved back. And the part that is grieved when none of that happens.
I’m glad that our kids don’t come with a crystal ball. If we could see ahead very far in our kids lives we might want to give ’em back to God. Instead we’re forced to our knees in reliance on God..for direction from God through his word. We plead for his grace and mercy for them (and us). We reach out for the wisdom of friends and family who have already traveled this road. And we work really hard to get our kids from babies to adulthood so that they can have a chance to repeat this cycle of life for themselves. Through all the changes and experience, we hope and pray that as parents, we have gotten some of it right and that our kids will do a better job than we did with their kids.
And after all the work, the investment, the joy, the pain, the tears, the laughter and… finally…the leaving, we parents take a deep breath…look at our mates with a sigh. then step on the clutch, shift gears and pull out onto life’s highway once more… alone. At least that’s what I think. I won’t really know for a few more years yet…and I’m quite happy about that!