August 31, 2010

Not What I Expected

"Point your kids in the right direction—when they're old they won't be lost." (Proverbs 22:6, The Message)

My kids went back to school today. The house is empty, the weather is beautiful and my computer and keyboard beckon. I should celebrate, right?

Don’t misunderstand, I’m thrilled my kids are back in school and we’re returning to more predictable routines. Lord knows their minds greatly need intellectual stimulation after a summer filled with far too much Facebooking, Sims creating, texting, iTouch gameplaying, and other forms of electronic gadgetry for my taste, and probably their own good.

Throughout the summer I suggested/implored/beseeched/commanded, “Why don’t you read a book/play outside/ride your bike/do a craft?”

“Moooom!” my tuned-out teens retorted in exasperation. “It’s too hot.” “No one’s home.” “I’ll be done in a few minutes.” “Later.” They’ve developed an impressive arsenal of evasion techniques.

So yes, part of me is doing the Wave to celebrate that my progeny are safely ensconced in their respective academic institutions.

But part of me is melancholy. I’m becoming increasingly aware that with each new step toward independence taken and each grade started, my little chicks are getting closer and closer to flying to coop. Sooner than I wish to imagine, they’ll be on their own. I want to freeze time. To savor our moments together. To hold onto life as it is right now.

I find it incredibly ironic the phase of parenting I dreaded most—the teen years—is the phase I’m enjoying the most. (Although technically my son isn’t quite yet a teen and I suspect his teen years are going to come with their own unique challenges.)

Next year we’ll start to look at colleges with our daughter. Didn’t we just choose a preschool? How did time pass this quickly? (*sniff*)

Before I break into full blown sobbing, suffice it to say the start of school this year is bittersweet.

It's our jobs as parents though, isn't it—to prepare our children to walk on their own? I hope and I pray that Dan and I are pointing them in the right direction...and that they continue to follow. For this we need to rely on God's guidance and faith in His provision.

In the coming weeks I'll be reordering my days, wrestling with my time management issues, reconnecting with friends and getting back to writing with enthusiasm and a new sense of purpose (at least I hope so).

What are your back-to-school thoughts and plans?

Today also marks the end of my Thirty-ish Days with God. Stop by tomorrow for my observations and thoughts on the experience. 


Terri Tiffany said...

My husband returned to school today and what a joy to be able to write when I want to!! Hope you get a ton planned and finished!

Dan said...

What Kelli fails to mention is that she wrote this blog from the backyard hammock, with a Margarita in one hand and a copy of "Frommer's Guide to Cool Places You Can Finally Go When Your Kids Move Out of the House" in the other...which is where she retired just after programming the DVR to never, ever again record another Disney Channel show. She also leaves out this key fact: that her husband feels exactly the same way. I turned to my daughter yesterday and said, "'re going into a double-digit grade." Then, I started feeling very sad. Empty-nesters, weigh in here...what's on the other side?

Renata Bowers said...

It's always interesting to discover a phase of parenting that you take to very naturally. I can't say that I enjoyed the newborn/infant phase, which some people love, and yet I didn't think the two's were so terrible at all. I loved the toddler years.

I too have had some apprehension about the upcoming teen years. :-)

Thanks for an insightful and humbly written post - as you say, if you rely on God's guidance you can't go wrong in training up your children.


I am happy to weigh in as an empty nester who can give a happy report. We have 2 daughter, 25 and 29. They live in a darling apartment in Chicago. They both love God and serve Him well. They have created sweet lives (routines, friends, ministry etc.)

Dave and I love having adult kids. We live in Seattle but we keep in close contact. We visit often. We video skype over meals or tea. We adore these girls and YEAH, they adore us.

When we are together in person it always feels like Christmas morning.

Of course, we'd love to be closer, but they are fun.

Hope that is an encouragment.


Susan S said...

Now that child #3 starts preschool shortly, we must have a bagel date to celebrate my awesome 2-hour freedom! And Dan, all my neighbors are "empty" nesters, and I have watched their kids get jobs, move out, lose job, move back home, marry, move out, separate, move back...with dogs. It's crazy!

Julie Gillies said...

We are already in our 3rd week of school, Kelli. My daughter is in 10th grade (my youngest!) and so I'm home schooling the very last one. Half of me is thrilled to have this time with her, and the other half can't wait to be done! LOL

We do our best, and the rest is in God's hands...

Runner Mom said...

I just loved Dan's comment!!!
I'm not an empty nester for quite a while, but this IS Austin's senior year. It's really strange!

I saw my cousin--who also has a senior--on Saturday at a cross country meet in charlotte. It's the only time we see each other in the fall! She said that she broke down that morning because it was his last Providence Meet! He asked his mom if she was going to have a meltdown with each "last meet?" She laughed and said yes!!

Love ya!

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli and Dan, as your kids prepare for and leave for college, there will be an adjustment period for sure, but you definitely don't find yourself being less of a parent -- the role just changes.

Believe it or not, you'll be praying even more for them than you are now, and you'll find all kinds of neat ways to stay connected and involved in their lives. And when you're doing those things long-distance, the pace of life doesn't really slow down because you'll find yourself busy traveling more.

And finally, when they get through college and settle into their adult lives, you'll find your relationship has moved into a very special friendship. It's precious and sweet -- you'll enjoy it. But yes, there will be times you really miss them. Sorry, but there's no way around it! :)

Sue J. said...

I'm a step behind you guys, so I can't offer any sage advice here.

I just got a look at the middle school insides for the first time. I'm asking, "Why are we sending the kids to high school in middle school?!" I'm just so glad it's not me, now, and thrilled that big girl is excited to have a locker and classes with multiple teachers.

Which all points to secret undiscovered blessings. And I think, on the road of child-rearing, that God throws in these moments of encouragement, moments of bittersweetness, patches of the rough stuff, to make sure you keep Him in view, even as we are watching them leave our view. We do need to keep praying that they will see him through us and, increasingly, in themselves.

I'm woo-hooing here officially as of Tuesday :-) [finally!!!!]

Sarah (GenMom) said...

It does get quiet at first and then life fills up again. It's great to have days with nothing but quiet to keep you company but it does get almost too quiet and I worry about the days coming when all day is quiet (like when they are off and out of the house). It makes you want to grab them tight and never let go!

Sassy Granny ... said...

What a wondeful post, Kelli; and what an equally wonderful addendum by Dan! I cracked up.

I promise (from my empty-nest vantage point, and the amazing age of 62): The BEST is yet to come!


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

With each new milestone you'll encounter, God will better prepare your heart for the college release. I know this one... it nearly did me in; yet, here I sit tonight, convalescing with 2 college sons around my table and young ones chattering away, and I am thankful for those milestones.

Remembrance helps me now.