A couple of years ago there was a push towards a countdown/legacy app to remind parents how little time they had remaining with children living in their home. I dutifully typed in the triplets' high school graduation month and the numbers still seemed high and far away.
As our children have celebrated birthdays and completed grades, I am beginning to hear the clock tick. There are milestones happening that receive far less press than the big ones like driving and graduations, yet mark time in their own striking way.
Dropping off in front of the grocery store to go buy a few things while I stay in the car, allowing them to go to the movies or a pizza place with friends and no adult, giving them a debit card with their name on it to learn to manage money, letting them walk to a friend's house in the neighborhood or go play a round of golf without a chaperone.
Step by step my young teens are becoming more comfortable in their independence. I am giving them more responsibility and they are (mostly) rising to the occasion. Of course, they stumble and fall as any child does when learning to walk, but we are doing it. Growth, however awkward and sometimes cringe-inducing and painful, is happening. And suddenly young adulthood doesn't seem so far away.
This Summer I watched several close friends launch their children into college and it has struck a much more personal chord. The reality of sending my people (ALL AT ONCE) out into the world in less than 5 years is becoming far more real.
In my weakness, I have allowed this countdown mentality to infuse an anxiousness into my parenting. A few accusing phrases bounce around my head (and occasionally squeeze their way out of my mouth.)
Time is ticking.
They are 14 years old...they will be driving a piece of heavy machinery on roads with other people in less than a year.
It is time to outgrow (insert childish behaviors here).
We have so much work left to do!
I can't send a kid to college that still (insert bad habit here) or doesn't know how to (insert responsible action here).
Their future roommate/wife/inlaws/boss won't believe good parents didn't work this out in childhood.
We have got to work on (insert list here that grows exponentially the more anxious I feel)
As I entertain these accusations, I start parenting out of fear (of what will happen if they aren't PERFECT when I launch them) and pride (what people will think of me).
Unfortunately, when I realize it is happening and start trying to talk myself down, I feel ashamed and overwhelmed. I don't like those feelings so I somewhat lighten up. Habits persist. The cycle starts all over again.
As I am honest about these feelings, the Lord is faithful to remind me that THEY ARE HIS. HE has plans for them--and while my role is significant, HE is their creator, savior, sustainer, sanctifier and the ultimate author of their stories. The point is for their lives to reflect God's glory, not mine.
"It is not all on you. You are significant in your kids' lives, but God is sovereign."
-Jeannie Cunnion, Mom Set Free
So, I plugged the date in and discovered I have 244 weeks until graduation...89 weeks until they are independently driving cars...and then I let out a large exhale of surrender. God willing, their stories will stretch far beyond those dates even as my role continues to shift within them.
God is growing them and I am grateful for the front row seat to watch it all unfold. Cheering, correcting, consoling, cringing...but holding on to the faith that they were all His idea--and He picked me to be their Mom for all the sanctification it would bring on both sides!
They are His. I am His. I believe that and therefore, I am recommitting myself to parenting accordingly.