You know that feeling when you are released from worry or anxiety, the one where you feel you are 100 lbs lighter and all you want to do is make love to your spouse right there on the spot because you are so filled with joy? I know it all too well. It’s a mixed blessing, that feeling. On the one hand you are happy because your worry was for naught, on the other you just recently spent hours worrying, making yourself almost physically ill. And, before you quote scripture on me, I am well aware of what the Bible has to say about worry, but I’m a mom, it’s what I do, it’s in the job description. Regardless of how much I trust God, people die, kids and young adults die, and that’s the thrust of my worry. I don’t worry about stitches or broken bones or fixable injuries, I go into full blown freak-out mode over death.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie ten Boom
And, as if being a mom isn’t enough cause for worry, being the mom of young paddlers seems to have me in an almost constant state of worry. Especially because I don’t have the luxury of knowledge, I haven’t been around this sport my whole life, I’m a newb, and as such I flip the heck out when they want to run things that I’ve only heard about amongst the extremists of the sport. You see, we started out on nice calm, Class II/III. We all moved onto Class III/IV, and then I plateaued here, as having babies that are nursing and young kids I don’t want to leave on a daily basis keeps me from progressing into the greater realms of the sport. But it’s all good, I have fun and I improve every time I get out. The problem is they kept moving on. And they want to keep moving on. And as their mom, that scares the sh*& out of me! I have to walk that fine and elusive line of not holding them back from pushing themselves and not encouraging idiocy. I have to trust that I’ve raised them to be very strong, capable and smart young adults. And, in short, I have to let go. And the irony in all of this is that the very thing that causes me such great stress is also the very thing that has aided in the raising of such mentally strong, competent and smart kids!
I honestly can’t tell you where the time went, how I got to the point where their childhood has transformed into adulthood. It’s bittersweet. They are starting to expand their wings and venture out into the great wide world without our rules and our constant supervision. They are making their own decisions and planning their own futures. It’s exciting and sad. Sad because I’m nostalgic, and because I won’t necessarily see them every single day all day long, and exciting because, well that’s what a good life is … exciting.
In the wake of this growing up and soaring thing, I am so thankful that I am their full-time mom, I’m so thankful I was there for every skinned knee, every trophy won, that I read them stories and gave them their snacks. I’m so thankful that I was home to build Lego’s and play house, build forts and snowmen. I am so incredibly thankful for all those years because we are so close now and, while the memories are so so wonderful, the best part is that our foundational relationship is so strong for forging into the future. And as a result of all those days and months that meshed into years and years our older children are now exactly what I hoped they would become. They are filled with wonder and awe and passion for life. They are the best role models for their younger siblings. To say I’m proud would be an understatement. To say I’m done would be an overstatement, a gross mistruth. I will never be done.
Is a parents job ever done? Don’t you go to the grave parenting and grandparenting?? I for one don’t subscribe to the 18 & out philosophy. I genuinely enjoy my kids. They are fun to be around and they push me to continue to grow, they take me outside my comfort zone (as I did for them not so long ago). I would like my kids to stick around. I see them as our best friends, our lifelong mates, the parents of our grandchildren. I see us paddling and snowboarding with our grandchildren. 18 & out? No, they might move out, eventually, but I hope they are never ever far.
And so, armed with this knowledge I’m not so adverse to letting go, knowing that I’m only letting go of control, not letting go of my children. I’m confident in their decision making skills and life survival skills. Dan and I have modeled and taught self-sufficiency since day one. It’s the most important skill one can possess. It’s more important than any subject taught in school. We’ve taught them and showed them that one only needs determination and a big imagination to make things happen. For good or for bad, we’ve done everything ourselves, never asked for help, save once or twice, and have beaten all the odds in everything we do. They’ve seen this, they’ve learned strength and resilience and determination. They’ve learned about faith and love and endurance through hard times. They’ve seen the other side of trials and how sweet that is.
With that said, it’s a hard way to live. I don’t want that for our kids. Of course we encourage and expect them to be self-sufficient and to make their own choices, but as a member of a family 14 deep they will never be alone. I want to be the family who rallies to build a deck and meets at the park and goes to all the ballet recitals and football games. I envision a caravan of RV’s and vans filled to the brim with kayaks and SUP’s and bikes and sand buckets and kids! So while change in the parent/child relationship is difficult, if inevitable, it’s also an exciting validation of the past 18+ years. And change doesn’t signal the end, it’s simply a new beginning of unchartered territory, of new adventures, and adventure is my life’s work, my passion. I’m up for this. I got this!
The video that sparked the blog follows. You will soon see why I was a lot bit freaked out!! 🙂
You found your answer within all that thinking: You haven’t missed a moment. And no matter what the future brings, you will always have those memories and the pride that you were there for all the moments big and small. And you have established the most important thing ever: communication. All that great communication you have with each one of them will always be there for both sides. They may go on to their own adventures on their own but you can be assured they’ll be on the phone or computer sending you all the fun details and videos 🙂
There are no guarantees with life. How good it it, how long it lasts, how much fun it is. If one is to measure a life, that requires looking back more than forward – plus a dash of in the moment decisions. I think (based on what I have read from you and about your family) – “You done good”, LOL.
Our children constantly bring us to the cross and to the joy of Easter. It is in their job description. With our Molly’s extreme shellfish allergy (she once went into shock after Mass having given peace to someone who had shrimp for dinner) I fear for her all the time. I had to put it in its place. The goal is heaven, I keep telling myself. So when I get that call that she is having a reaction and had to once again use her epi pen. I pray that her soul is ready if that is Gods will. I know she had been to the sacraments recently and that always gives me comfort. Remembering how strong her relationship with God is allows me to deal with physical needs at hand. It help me put it into place. “Shellfish can not keep her from heaven” and therefore should not be feared. I know panic a few days later while writing a post about it. Then I am in the right frame of mind to pray for her and let it go. I know it may not be the same thing you are talking about but the focus of the goal helps. Even Holy Mary and St Joseph had their parenting moments of fear when Christ was separated from them. So your fears are in good company.
So true. So true. I love your blogs.
Really fantastic blog and I can relate so much. I don’t think you have to be talking extreme sports, life can be a cause for worry. I can sometimes be consumed by it when I think of my kids off at college. You nailed it, girl, when you said giving up control. Phew. It’s hard!
Very timely! My son is graduating from high school, about to head to college and live on campus. Out of our house! Our of our daily lives! My heart is killing me. After reading this, I feel so much better. I agree, don’t go far, kiddos, fly, but always return!
Great timing as we prepare to send our son off to the Air Force Academy. It’s complicate the joy and sadness, pride and fear we are experiencing. God Bless you Kellogg’s you always speak to our hearts.
Oh letting go, I can’t! I envy your faith and your trust in your kids. It’s obvious you’ve raised them well!
Hmmm, I’m not so good at this myself!!