What to Expect
“What to Expect When They are All Grown Up”
That should be the title of the book.
Because there are plenty of books about being pregnant, planning for a family, fostering, adopting, navigating the toddler to teen years. But, what about when they are all grown up?
We are getting closer to that season. I think we are in the middle of that season in my house. Our oldest son is 20. Then there’s the 17 year old. Rounding up the crew is the 11 (soon to be 12) year old.
And I am not sure how ready I am.
Oh, I mean, yeah I am ready. Surface ready. Got the friends in my back pocket with all the tips. Reflecting on when *I* was their age (it doesn’t seem that long ago and then it does) and all I learned. (“Don’t make the same mistakes I did!”) But what about heart ready? Lemme just tell you: that first college kid you drop off? That drive away is. The. Hardest. And I haven’t found it any easier so far. He comes home for breaks and holidays. What about when he is really off on his own? Each college drop off is closer to that season. (And how exciting for him! And how *gulp* bittersweet for me.)
I suppose we should be happy and proud they get to this point in life. And we definitely are. It’s just….well. You build your LIFE around these little people, and everything you do revolves around the family and then one day, they aren’t little people anymore. They have flown the nest. And the family dynamics have shifted once again.
You *think* you are gonna be ready for it. But you won’t even realize it’s happening until it’s behind you. The last time you help them wash their hair. Or make them a sandwich. Then one day they announce: I can do it! And sure enough they can. And you do the right thing: you let them.
One of those moments for me recently had to do with STUFF. Stuffed animals, actually. That we used to have in quite an abundance. Over the years, that tapered off. One in college, one in high school….that just left the youngest one who still had a mini mountain of stuffed animals at the end of his bed. He’s getting taller. And he’s getting older. The other day he said (in his already deepening voice), “Hey, Mom, got a box or something I can put these stuffed animals in? I don’t really need them anymore.”
(That scene in the Toy Story movie where Andy puts everything in a box? Really happens. Cue the tears. But hide them. Maybe.)
I joked that I guess the days were behind us where he would beg for a stuffed animal for his birthday or Christmas. I helped him find the right container to contain all of those memories. I said we could put the container under his bed for now instead of in the basement. I walked away and thought: Huh. He’s growing up like his brothers. And then I thought: WAIT: HE’S GROWING UP LIKE HIS BROTHERS.
It seems like the perfect timing and yet all too soon.
Isn’t that how it always is? We are never quite ready even when we are.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him – Luke 2:40
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