My oldest, Andy is moving to Dallas, Texas in ten days, 14 hours away from home. Katie will begin her senior year of college in four weeks, all while preparing to spend 11 months abroad as soon as she graduates. Blake, my youngest, begins his first year of college as a student athlete in three weeks. Although Katie and Blake- and Andy formerly- are commuter students, John and I intentionally give them most of the freedoms they would have as on-campus students. We have three basic expectations of our college age children:
- If you are not going to be home over night you must let us know.
- You must attend church- it does not have to be our church, but you must actively attend a church.
- You must continue to be an active and respectful member of the family which means helping out with household chores or projects as needed and participating in family events like birthdays and holidays.
To be honest, we have never been a rule oriented family. If you pressed our kids for the standards we required of them, I hope they would tell you that our two guiding principles were to love God and love others. Sometimes loving others meant cleaning a toilet. Other times it meant playing a board game when you would rather watch a movie.
All that being said, the time for rules and expectations and doing life together on a daily basis has dwindled to the last few grains of sand in this season of our lives. John and I are almost empty nesters. Today more than ever I see the changes my life is about to take.
For years, John and I made an effort to prepare our children for adulthood. We taught them to be responsible. To make the wise choice. To do their own laundry. To change a tire. To keep a budget. To cook and clean. To have fun. To be a good friend. To ask forgiveness. To serve others. To succeed with humility. To fail with grace. Since the day Andy, Katie, and Blake were born we practiced the hard art of letting go.
We see the fruit of this as our oldest told us thank you for making this time of moving away not only exciting but easy. He explained that he does not feel as though we are going to fall apart when he leaves. He sees us cheering him on and releasing him into this next phase of his life.
No, it isn’t easy. Yes, I will cry when he drives away, but joy and pride for all three of my children as well as peace and confidence in The One who holds their futures even with all of my failings as a parent are my overriding emotions.
The biggest downside I see so far to the empty nester life is not saying goodbye to my children- because it isn’t even goodbye. It is that I had to mow our yard today for the first time in 6 years. Yes, changes are coming my way.
What changes are happening in your life? How have you prepared for them?