Perhaps because of the demands of my husband's career, we learned early that getting far away and off the grid was the best way to truly relax together. Travel has become a part of our family DNA.
When our children were younger, I did all the packing. As they got into upper elementary school, I would give them a fairly specific list and they would select items accordingly. In high school this evolved into me asking them what they thought they needed for the trip. I might give general reminders and feedback, but they learned to evaluate the activities, weather and length of trip to decide what they needed. Because journeys are unpredictable, there are times when we miss the mark. I am thinking of many sweatshirts, swimsuits, and shoes through the years that have been purchased at our destinations.
As I brainstormed Christmas gift list ideas last week, I thought about the bags my young adults would need. I don't yet know their destinations. Will they be mostly driving home from school or flying? Will they land in places where they might hike on weekends or settle into an urban environment? I can't predict what types of bags they will need just yet, nor do I fully understand what they will practically need to put inside them.
When we elected to give our kids a redshirt Kindergarten year, I started calling this 18-year-old Senior year our 'victory lap.' Little did I know it would actually contain its share of hard lessons that sometimes feel more like defeat.
As I was discussing this with a friend recently she said "It's all going in their adulthood bag. These are the lessons they will carry with them. Aren't you glad they are happening when you are still close enough to really coach?"
Much like the destination, the challenges they will face in their journeys remain unknown. An encouraging older Mom friend urged me to view the lessons they are learning this year as essentials they will need in their emotional/social/spiritual bags. Especially the difficult ones.
Another important point was made by my husband recently when I was in a tizzy about something that had barely affected one of my children. As I talked through how it triggered something from my own high school experience he wisely and lovingly reminded me, "That's your stuff. They have enough of their own. Don't ask them to carry yours too."
So here we are, doing the work of packing bags for adventures and destinations unknown to us, but already fully covered by the Author and Perfector of our faith.
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