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Rubiks Cube

 

rubiks

There are times going through life that something occurs and you know that you will not be able to return to what was ever again; you move cross country or leave an important relationship and can feel the glacial shift deep within your self. It’s like a Rubik’s cube and a new row of matching colors has just been lined up; a feeling of satisfaction comes over you because you are a big step closer to the goal.

In our family, a whole side of the cube turned over and got matched this past weekend: our youngest child graduated from high school. I distinctly remember the morning of the first day of kindergarten for our oldest, I wrote a letter to the three little people in our house, explaining the fact that life would be changing from here on out, we would be on the schedule of the school system, with an influx of papers and projects and tests. Our focus moved to the daily muddling through with a very distant goal.

Somehow those three little kids stretched out and became taller and smarter, they started to think for themselves and visualizing their own goals and our house is becoming bigger and quieter by the day. The chaos has changed to small bursts and been replaced with long stints of near silence. In the most practical sense, I have worked myself right out of a job.

When our first two children graduated and started moving towards their next steps I had a deep sadness and already started to dread how it would feel to have the last one move on, but so far I feel nothing but excitement for the future. Their future. Because this isn’t about me. For years they were an extension of me, hanging off of me and looking to me to see how to react to life, but now they have stronger legs than mine and they know how to respond, even if an occasional call to Mom or Dad needs to be made.

 The part that is about me? The Rubiks Cube that keeps getting closer to being completed?  It is a life filled with memories and experiences that have helped to make me who I am, and I can’t wait to see what color of the cube we work on next.

 

I’m a Fan

soccer

Our son was playing in his last soccer game of the season, which meant the last sports tournament of his high school career. We have watched this kid run, catch, throw and kick from the sidelines for at least ten solid years, and this was the final time. It occurred to me that when our kids are performing in the school years, we have permission to cheer and gloat, to whistle and yell and support them in any way possible. Then, this dies down dramatically as they age.

There are those few who continue playing a sport in college and beyond, but the vast majority settle in to quieter pursuits and the onlookers stop cheering. Think about how rarely you genuinely cheer someone on from the sidelines after they leave high school. For me, this needs to change. I want to keep encouraging and clapping loudly, standing in awe when they do something crazy great and high five the others who witnessed it with me. I want to continue to be my kid’s biggest fan, even as he hangs up his cleats and turns in his gear.

Here’s to the Moms and Dads who sit on the sidelines and watch their child’s every move for a season. May that season be a lifetime.

 

What Do Adult Children Need?

theend

What do they want from me? Sometimes our youngest will gush about how cool someone’s mom is, or how much money somebody’s parents spend on a friend’s wardrobe and I can start to feel anxious about the way I am viewed by our daughter and her friends. If I’m not really careful, I can feel like a failure because we don’t go on fabulous cruises with our kids or know all the latest jargon. This past week my daughter was very amused at my complete inability to take a selfie and at the fact that my phone is always at less than 10% charged. Always.

What do my adult children need from me at this point in life? Obviously, they are very capable in most arenas; they can get themselves from place to place, cook their own meals and hold down jobs while attending school. They have relationships with each other and with other people without needing me to referee, and each can stand up for themselves without needing my approval or permission.

So as I am quickly working my way out of a job, what is my role at this point? It has taken me some time to answer the question, but I think I have it now. My job is to remain consistent. Whenever possible, I need to be accessible to my children, available to answer the many questions that are asked about establishing credit, how health insurance works and if a check is written today, do I still have money in my account? I need to be consistent in my values, so when my young adults are questioning their own, they know they can rely on their parents to be true to what we have taught them. I need to be consistently open to new ideas and perspectives, so our children know they can voice theirs to me and not be shut down or judged harshly. My children need me to be their biggest cheerleader, ready to throw a big party in their honor. And I need to consistently love my brood, whether they disappoint, frustrate or thrill me, they need to be able to rely on the fact that their mother is crazy about them, no matter what.

I may not be everything that my children would like, but I can say that I work hard to continue to be what they need. In my opinion, it’s cool to be consistent.

 

Get on the Floor

floor

When my kids were little, I felt like I lived on the floor of our living room. Looking back at video footage of Christmas mornings and birthday celebrations seem to confirm my memory because the entire time I seem to be at their level, assisting in present opening and sharing excitement over every little thing. I felt like a human Jungle Gym, with babies climbing and hanging off of me all day.

But when I watch footage of regular days, the quick capture of dressing up and dancing and playing with cars, I see that I am often on the periphery, cooking or cleaning and walking through the chaos, responding but not really a part of the fun. Why is that?

I can remember my guy pulling the big video camera out of it’s bag (yes, really) and starting to record whatever our little treasures were into, and I would react with a need to clean up the environment. We can’t let ourselves believe we lived in this mess, can we? The pressure to appear that we have it all together is so strong, even in our home movies. And what if a friend came over? How awful to be caught with this morning’s dishes not done, or to appear that I don’t have this parenting thing nailed?

I often have young moms ask me what I wish I had done better when my children were the ages of theirs. Many things, but high on the list would be: I wish I had spent more time on the floor with my babies. You can’t do laundry or cook dinner or run errands from down there, but you can read books and fire up imaginations and give unlimited hugs, kisses and affirmation.  Have you ever noticed that you’re better at this at someone else’s house? It’s because you don’t have tasks to do there.

I want to encourage young parents to get on the floor (and the grass) and stay there longer than you intend to. Everyday. That other stuff? It can wait.

 

 

Handle With Care

bubble wrap

Feeling a need for bubble wrap today. I want to take a huge roll of the stuff and start it at my core and spin around multiple times, I’ll need a helper with some strong tape to secure it tight after I’m snug in there. Maybe some headphones first, alternating between smooth jazz and the sound of waves crashing, then bubble wrap. Can you see through several layers of it? Sunglasses too, just in case.

That’s how fragile I feel, like nerve endings are standing off of my skin. Our son moved into college over the weekend and our oldest daughter is moving across the country to start her schooling later this week. The baby of the family? Yep, just left for her first day of senior year in high school. I have been working myself out of a job for years, knowing full well that this day would come, and yet I am completely unprepared. I don’t recognize the landscape anymore.

I actually woke up mad at Jesus Saturday morning, reminding him that I thought we had an agreement that He would come before I had to endure all of this! Fortunately, He can handle my anger. And my ache.

A friend of a friend reminded me of something over the weekend: lament is an appropriate form of worship. In fact, more than one third of the book of Psalms are laments, cries of fear and suffering and unjust. God wants us to bring our joy and anguish to Him, He wants every bit of it. So these days I am handing him my puffy eyes, deep sighs and crying jags that sometimes come out of nowhere. I’m going to try to go easy on myself and feel all the feelings that go with this parenting deal, so if you see me staring into space or trying hard not cry, feel free to pretend not to notice, and maybe check to make sure my bubble wrap is staying in place, will you?

 

 

 

Adventure

IMG_2450The countdown has begun, without really meaning to. Our girl is leaving in just a few days to start a new adventure. It’s been a long time coming; we have known for years that our oldest daughter would do something in the area of missions, and she is now putting details to those plans. Jessica is leaving for Florida in a little over a week to attend Missionary training at the Heart Institute. It’s a semester long, full-time learning experience that teaches students to live sustainably off the land and even simulates a third world village, with no electricity or running  water. Her textbooks include titles like, “Where There Is No Doctor” and “Raising Healthy Poultry”. She will be able to send and receive mail one day a week. As we were making plans for packing, I flippantly said that she could let me know what she needs and I will send it within a matter of a couple of days, and then we realized it would be two weeks at minimum, and that’s assuming that our timing is right! So, in a way, the training has already begun. For all of us.

Please pray? Not for safety or for ease in this transition. We want it to be difficult, because in the difficult comes growth and change and obviously my girl isn’t terribly interested in living a safe life! Lord, please give her adventure and let her hear Your heart, set her heartbeat to the rhythm of Yours. Open her eyes to so many other ways of doing things, to other cultures and value systems. Please deliver her back to us an even stronger, more capable woman filled with compassion and grace for those You are calling her to. Strengthen me to completely trust You with my treasure. Again. And as always, thank you for letting me be her Mama.

http://heart-institute.org/

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