My house is quiet. It’s a new normal for me. I am the mom of four kids which lends itself to a noisy and sometimes chaotic house. As of a few weeks ago we now have a solo child. Our daughter is now the only one left at home, her brothers have all taken off to new life chapters. It is a new chapter for those of us left at home too – we are learning our new rhythms.
I swear it was yesterday when this sweet older lady, probably my current age of 50, looked at me sympathetically as I was navigating the grocery aisle with two little boys who were punching each other and two “littles” in the cart both crying. She came over and told me how she missed those days and that all her children were now grown and she wished she could trade me a few days. Trust me I was wishing we actually could. I remember she had tears in her eyes and her melancholy laced words were so sweet and really encouraged me. She told me to enjoy the years as they were growing up because they go by so quickly. I truly did enjoy them and she was right, they are over in the blink of an eye.
My emotional musings were prompted by my 21-year-old driving away to pursue his country music career in Nashville and my 18-year-old heading off to college. Two really big goodbyes in two short weeks, my heart just was not ready. It has been my prayer for years that our kids would be independent and pursue their dreams using their God given strengths and gifts. As parents you are preparing your children to launch from the time they are very little. A fellow mama who just took her daughter to college said we just forgot to prepare ourselves for the launch. We shared a teary laugh at the thought.
We stood in our kitchen the morning our son left for Nashville, huddled together, praying blessings upon him. Tears of pride, tears of excitement, and tears of sadness because things are changing and we know he will be traveling the world and we will be sharing him with his fans keeping him away from home for extended periods of time. As he was walking to his car and loading the last few items, I couldn’t stop staring at him, trying to soak up our last few minutes together. He gave me a sweet smile just like he did when he was little and was excited to participate in something fun or as he got older before he took the football field to play in a big game. He is ready!
Two weeks later I stood inside a dorm room on the Colorado State campus looking at my youngest son. He had that same smile on his face. A montage of his life played before my eyes. As he was assessing his new place, I was taking my last inventory making sure he had all he would need to succeed. It was time to say goodbye. I didn’t trust myself to speak coherently all the bits of advice and love I wanted to share with him so I had written them in a letter which I placed under his pillow just as I did with his two older brothers. That hug – bittersweet. He joins his brothers on the journey of becoming who he will become. empty nest
I have read at least a dozen blogs over the past few weeks advising me on what to say, what not to say to my adult children. How often you should call your college kids, how you should prepare their siblings, how you should get a new hobby. Some great advice and some I don’t recall. In the end we as a family have to figure out our new norm. Like so much of parenting, we don’t know what it will be like until we are there.
I will be honest, I have shed some tears. Like when my husband and I went to dinner with dear friends and I started crying in the salad bar line or when I was at the grocery store realizing I didn’t need to buy all the loaves of bread, gallons of milk, and a dozen apples. Teary as I restocked the shelves and walked away with my new much smaller basket. Adjusting is part of the life journey. I got to my car that day and my cell phone rang, it was my oldest calling to see if he could come over for dinner and asking me how I was doing with his brothers being gone. I gladly walked back into the store and bought things to prepare a bigger dinner. Life is constantly changing and I accept the challenge thankful and secure that God is in control of it all. I will miss the boys like crazy but I am confident it is as it should be.
Is there a time you have struggled with changes in your family dynamics?
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future.
By Sherri Crandall
Wife to Rusty
Mom of 4
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Associate Director of Women’s Ministry at Mission Hills Church