Today I stopped by our pastor's house. I was wanting to borrow a book, and see their new puppies. (I had half a hunch I might not be able to resist them, and so far, they're so tiny and new that I don't think I'd better touch them. So at least some bonding possibility was evaded for the moment.) While I was there, they asked me how Katie got off to return to college. She left without a hitch. This time, for the first time, there were no tears, no particular sentimentality. She was so looking forward to seeing her friends, and has come to realize she will return soon enough to see us again. But Kit, our Pastor Ken's wife, was pointing out that she is turning into an adult and developing a life of her own, as if she expected me to sorrow over it. Yes, I know. And it doesn't bother me. In fact, I am looking forward to it, I'm glad for her!
I feel a little insensitive in saying so. It seems that the proper attitude for a parent is to sorrow over their children's growing up, to look back with wistfulness and look forward with dread. I kind of understand this; looking at pictures of Katie when she was seven and dresses just popped over her head and life was simple, I kind of miss those days. I kind of do; but more, I kind of don't! I am glad for the changes that have taken place, for the woman Katie has become, for the maturity and wisdom that she is gaining. It isn't that I didn't love being a mom, and raising her; I did! It is just that each step prepares me for the next, and I see God's hand in her life, providing her with things that we could never have done, even if we had strength of our own, more than we could ever do apart from Him and His grace. She has wisdom and insight that I didn't plant there. She has an ability to relate to others that surpasses mine (and I envy her in that one thing). She is confident and getting ready to take her place in the world.
I think if we get stuck in the wistful-over-the-past kind of mode, we lose the joy of the present and the future. The past is ours, it is given, but it is also gone so we can't go back. If we hold our children back from maturity, we do them a great disservice! They need to grow up; it is what God created them to do. We should encourage them and spur them on! With Katie, this was easy; she always seemed to want to grow up. With Tim, I find it more of a challenge, since he seems to cling to the stuff of childhood.
And I think of my seeming lack of sentimentality. Is it a bad thing? How did I get to be so awfully practical? Why do I so easily give it up? I look back, and when I think of having been responsible for young life, I find it so overwhelming. I have always been the disciplinarian in the house; also the homeschooling mother, the one who has supervised and orchestrated their days, sometimes not very creatively, but to the best of my ability. Many of those years were plagued by various challenges aside from child-raising and homeschooling. These things were very much for my good in that they brought me to Christ, but still, it was an overwhelming time that I am glad is in some ways done and gone. I'm glad we have pictures and reminders, but I can look forward to the hope of grandchildren and, Lord willing, relive the easiest, happiest aspects through them (and then return the little ones to their parents for the harder stuff!).
So Katie goes to college to see her friends, and I rejoice for her that she is growing up, and preparing to "leave the nest." She will, before long, develop her own little nest, and it will be fun to watch her do so. She will be better-equipped than I ever dreamt of being at that age. And God has His hand on her as she does so. I am so thankful for that. I rejoice, I rejoice so much that God has made such a plan for our days. Hallelujah!
Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
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