January 23, 2015
Empty Nest or Full House?
My baby, the one who was born just a few short days ago, is 18 today. How did that happen? She came out already grown, knowing way too much about what was going on around her and making sure she let us know that she knew. She could talk long before she could walk, so she set about using her vocal leadership skills to get her almost-twin Bryan, born 6 weeks after her and already walking, to go retrieve toys and her pacifier. She hasn't stopped honing this skill since.
This week is also the last week of her homeschooling career, so despite that we don't have any sort of co-op to join with for a graduation ceremony, her high school days end the same day she becomes a legal adult...mayor de edad in Spanish.
These past two years have been a big time of preparation for the next step, something that wasn't quite decided until very recently. After a lot of talking, praying, and consulting, several visits to colleges in the US, a few to colleges here, and still more talking and praying, she has decided that she will stay here in Paraguay with us.
I'd always imagined her flying away to university life the instant she finished high school, with me depending on skype and her grandparents and a lot of prayer. But as we went over the options she could choose from, she talked a lot about a gap year, that time after high school when some young adults (did I just use that word to describe my BABY?!?!) step away from formal education and explore a bit, looking into things that interest them but maybe they didn't have time to pursue while studying. The goal is to find out what it is in life that makes you passionate, what fulfills you and makes you feel you were born to do this. Of course, many folks don't find that out until way down the road, but if it's possible to learn this BEFORE investing years of your life into studying for a degree, that's a plus.
So she will take some classes, volunteer a bit, carry out some internships--we're not exactly sure WHAT this time will look like. We trust the Lord to open and close doors for her and speak to her heart while she is seeking Him and His will.
I'm excited for her, I'm nervous for her, I'm nervous for me. I was just talking to another parent-of-teens this week about mommy guilt, and for missionaries, I think it's easy to throw on a pile of it.
Are my kids going to be permanently damaged for this? Have I destroyed their chances for ___? How will they ever feel at home? Will they marry here or there and will that make them happy or leave them feeling like they're missing something? Should we have ___? Why did we ___?In her wisdom, her reply to me was, "If it wasn't the mission field, it'd be something else. You're just able to put a name on it more easily than some." I'll try to remember that.
It seems that as parents, we're aware all along that we do things wrong, that we're human and we mess up this mothering thing, that we have regrets. The difference when they're younger is that we're able to say, "Well, she has __ more years at home, so I'll make up for it in that time." Then comes that big birthday, that big graduation, and we are suddenly aware that the clock is up.
So I consciously decide today, like so many days before, to place her back in the hands of the One who loaned her to me, while I enjoy the extra bonus of getting more time with her than I'd expected. :)