I’m quite sure that no parenting book or words of wisdom could prepare me to be the mother of young adults and for the different kind of heart hurt and angst that comes along with it.
In the upcoming week, my youngest son leaves for his first year of college. As if him being 5 hours away wasn’t enough, my daughter and her husband just told us that they are moving to Qatar. Yes Qatar in the Middle East. And they are leaving in less than a week from now.
My husband and I used to have a hashtag #en2017 (empty nest 2017), and we used to excitedly chant it when our “kids” were getting on our nerves. Yet now that it’s here, I’m not quite as gleeful. I’d like to think that I kind of had my mind wrapped around our son leaving. I was mentally prepared for the tearful ride home from Pittsburgh, clinging to the fact that we’d see him in October at family weekend. Knowing that he’s ready, and excited, it’s time for me to let go.
But Qatar!?! When I texted or told people that our daughter was moving far, far, FAR away for 1-2 years, I got all kinds of responses. All of them which I appreciate. Some were empathetic. Some tried to take the positive “what a tremendous opportunity” route. But the response I appreciated the most was from my one girlfriend who responded “WTF!?!!! I would be devastated.” Exactly. And thank you.
The sermon at church today sure was timely. So timely I’d say it was God given. Our pastor talked about the notion of being ALL IN and raised the question “do we believe that God is truly the Lord over our lives”? As in, ALL of our lives. As in, not just when things go well, but when they are in the crapper. When we are experiencing our deepest hurts, can we still go ALL IN and believe that God has an intention for this time in our lives?
I have a deep faith and have experienced a world of hurts. Very, serious hurts. There were seasons of my life when I questioned God’s plan for me. I felt abandoned by Him. Yet He was always faithful.
When my children became young adults I realized that I had no choice but to go ALL IN and trust God with not only my life but the lives of my children. It was the only way I could have any kind of peace when it came to letting them go. I had two comforts to rely on as my kids came of age: 1) that my husband, family and I gave them a good foundation and that 2) God would take care of the rest.
After our daughter told us the news, and my husband and I were driving home processing it all. I said to him “I don’t even know why people have children, they rip your heart out.” OK, maybe a bit dramatic but hey, my mama heart was hurting. Being a parent of young adults can be terrifying. All of the sudden they are not under your roof anymore and you have no…more…control. Beyond the no control thing we also have the knowledge of all of the stupid stuff that we did as young adults. My husband and I dated in college, and boy were we stupid.
A friend of mine and I were talking about how it feels to send our kids off to college and she said that she felt a sense of mourning, that she was mourning the loss of the relationship. Her saying that made me feel better because that’s how I was feeling.
There is some goodness in the midst of all of this change. As a mama who is now on the other side, who has sent her daughter off to college, received her home, moved her back in, moved her out and watched her getting married. There is a new and different relationship that blossoms with adult children. There’s something crazy fulfilling that comes from watching our adult children find their ways and shine.
If you’re not in that place yet mama (or papa) (or caregiver), just hold on. It will happen. Your adult kids still need you, just in different ways and it will be equally if not more fulfilling to forge this new normal.
Heading into what is going to be a tough mama week, sending my son off to Pitt and my daughter off to Qatar, the comfort I seek is from the one who I trust the most.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:7
This will be my verse of the week and I’ve written ALL IN on the palm of my hand to remind me that I need to trust God with ALL aspects of my life. Even when I’m afraid to let go.
"A carefully cultivated heart will, assisted by the grace of God, foresee, forestall, or transform most of the painful situations before which others stand like helpless children saying "Why?" - Dallas Willard
No matter what new normal you are facing, it is my prayer for you that the grace and peace that only God can bring comforts your heart.