A few weeks ago our church wrapped up a series called "The Perfect Life", only the graphic behind the pastor each week showed the "f" falling. You get it. It was a great series all about the challenges we all face with our family of origin. It made me laugh when thinking of those crazy or unpredictable family members we all have, that crack us up, or leave us questioning how we were born of the same gene pool! And then I had a moment that perhaps that's what my family thinks of me? Yikes!
The final week in the series was more about parenting our own kids, and how hard it can be (a topic I covered in my last blogpost). The pastor ended the lesson with a visual of large glass jars filled with orange (a trademark color for the church) marbles. Each jar represented one of his 4 children, and each marble represented the number of weeks, from birth through age 18, that he and his wife have left with their kids at home. Well, that's ALL I needed to see. You can imagine the quiet that came across the congregation as we saw the varying levels of marbles in his jars.
As we left the sanctuary, we could all pick up a marble to have as a reminder of the precious time we have with our kids at home. The truth is that the one marble I picked up was actually the number of weeks I had at home with our last child...O N E. Sobering. She moved out a week later to her own apartment that she will share with her husband after they get married later this month.
To say the weeks and years flew by would not entirely be the truth. But when you are packing up your child's car and kissing them goodbye, it sure seems that way. Am I sad? Yes, in some ways. More melancholy I would say. I like my kids and honestly, they are fun to have around. But, I am ready to not be on constant "worry alert". This was a part of parenting that was the hardest for me, and as many reading this will attest to, worry is the parenting "gift that keeps on giving"!
So to all of you with kids at home, hang in there, it's an important job and one you can't do alone. Lean on your partner, your community, school, friends and your faith and be willing to admit when you need help. Parenting is a learned skill. And if you do not have kids at this time, or maybe don't have plans to have them, we are ALL parents in our own ways. Caregiving for anyone and anything is a form of parenting that is equally important.
Here's to the next chapter; the season of empty nesting, rediscovering what my husband and I have in common after 31+ years together, and here's to being intentional about making the most of the marbles we have left together.