It’s a little after 10pm and I hear a light rap on my bedroom door, “Mom can I come in” my daughter asks. She’s coming in to return my blouse she had borrowed to wear to work because all of her clothes were packed away. She’s got it all wrinkled up, holding it tight to her chest and says “well, I guess I can’t just pop in and borrow your clothes anymore.” We both lock eyes, having a moment, knowing that everything is about to change.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Parenting objective: to raise strong, independent, kind, loving, courageous children that become adults who are able to go out and make their God gifted contributions to the world.[/pullquote]We know as parents that it’s bound to happen. After all it’s been our main goal. Everything we’ve done, since the day we brought her home from the hospital in her Minnie Mouse dress has led to this moment. Every encouragement, direction, correction, praise, every single encounter we have with our children is to help them be their best selves, not the people that we want them to be, but to be the magnificent human beings that God created them to be. If parenting had a job objective it’d be written in bold at the top of the page. Parenting objective: to raise strong, independent, kind, loving, courageous children that become adults who are able to go out and make their God gifted contributions to the world.
And so it happened. Today my 23 year old birdie flew the nest. She didn’t fly far, yet I have to be honest, it sure feels that way. While my mind knows that it was time, my heart hurts a little bit. It was time because there’s a delicate dance that occurs when adult “kids” live at home with their parents. On some days, a VERY delicate dance. Although they’re living at home, they still want to be independent, to come and go as they please, to do their own thing. And I totally get that. We’ve done our best to give her space, but…we’re still parents…we still worry…we still ask questions about her whereabouts and want to know if she’s coming home. If you’re a parent of a child old enough to have their driver’s license, you probably understand that sigh of relief that comes when you hear their car pull into the driveway, knowing that they’re safely home. Safe. Home.
It’s certainly been an interesting transition watching her morph into adulthood with my 17 year old son not far behind her. They certainly didn’t write about this stage in What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Maybe this chapter would have scared potential parents away. It’s an uncomfortable chapter. There’s a push pull relationship that comes with parenting young adults. For me, I’ve never been quite sure how much guidance is too much guidance, how much help is too much help. Push pull, push pull. Give take, give take. Some days you give and they take. Some days you give and they take, take, take and take some more, nearly sucking the life out of you (I hope that made you laugh). Our family dynamics are changing. It’s so weird to think about our daughter now being a guest in our home. That she’ll come over for a visit or for dinner. That she won’t just burst in the door singing like she does most every day. That when she has a story to tell or is bursting with news it might be done by phone. I know that like every relationship that deserves special care, we now will need to be intentional about our time together. To be sure to reach out while giving each other space. To schedule time to be with each other. To seek each other.
It reminds me of the relationship we have with God. As our father he had the same goal in mind for us: to create strong, independent, kind, loving, courageous children that become adults who are able to go out and make their contributions to the world in his name. To allow us to do this he had to let go. He watched us fall, and sin, and do good, and fumble and be amazing and make big fat messes out of things. He gave us a strong foundation and then he stepped back. Knowing that what he created was good but not perfection. He knew we’d muck things up, and was prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, his son Jesus. He trusts and believes in us, in his creation, in our potential to change the world. His mercy, grace and unfailing love has survived every single change in dynamic we’ve had with him. He pushes us to greatness and pulls us close when we’re fearful. He gives even when we don’t deserve it and he takes and we don’t understand it. Through all of the push pulls, and the give and takes, he waited faithfully, patiently. And while there are some days we can do it on our own, there are more days that we need to lightly rap on his door and say “Father can I come in”? And in that moment he’ll hold us tight to his chest, knowing that we’ve sought him with intention and by doing that we are safe, home.