Tapping the “off” button on my iPhone, I ended the FaceTime with my daughter. Smiling to myself, I reflected on how fast the years passed. A successful ballerina, my daughter lives in New York, is beautiful and independent, and exactly what my husband and I had hoped for. And I miss her horribly. Our son, a successful digital artist, lives nearby with his lovely wife, and I am grateful.
As they were growing up, I made a point of celebrating the small moments—the quick giggles when I tickled ribs, and the colorful, sometimes incomprehensible pictures on the refrigerator. God gave us two amazing children, and we raised them the best we could. Were we perfect parents? Absolutely not. But those whom God calls, He equips, and He called us to parent these two.
After 25 years of raising children, now what? Is my job as a parent done?
I do not believe so. She will always be my sweet girl, and he will always be my little man; however, time rolled on and purposeful changes needed to take place to redefine my role in their lives.
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When my babies were born, I became a nurturer. I fed them, wiped snotty noses, and changed poopy diapers. Experiencing sleepless nights, endless crying jags, and broken hearts as I struggled to fill their needs was part of this role. But I was rewarded a thousand-fold as we laughed at bubbles, created imaginative works of art with crayons, and embraced lots of snuggles when droopy eyes gazed up at me.
Elementary school years required a shift as a parent; I had to let go a little bit. Those incomprehensible pictures turned into report cards on the refrigerator, and I marveled that these tiny humans came packaged with minds of their own.
My role shifted from nurturer to director.
6:30 a.m. time to get up! Breakfast at 7:00 a.m., school at 8:00 a.m., snack at 3:00 p.m., homework at 4:00 p.m., and on it went. Celebrating successes included cheering every A, hugs when she remembered to hang up a blouse or dress, a big thank you when he took off his shoes at the door. I was required to show loving discipline to redirect poor choices and loving support of good choices.
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The teen years came too quickly. Once again, my role shifted and I had to let go and trust that the love and discipline we invested, the security of home, and the involvement in youth group at church paid off. My role became cheerleader and chauffeur.
Launching them into adulthood was an emotional roller coaster. On one hand, I was proud of my children. They grew up to be successful humans with so much to offer. But I wanted to hold on to them a bit longer. With not too few tears flowing down my face, they moved out into the world to take on adulthood.
My role has now shifted to mentor and friend.
Although both of my children are successful, life still has struggles and I hurt when they hurt, wanting to jump in and solve their adulting problems for them. With a phone call that involves tears, I go into problem-solving mode. However, she doesn’t want answers, she just wants someone to listen. No judgement, no clichés. Celebrating successes is also part of my role. When he calls to let us know about a promotion, we all cheer. And often, I learn as much from them as they do from me.
Talking daily is no longer part of my role in their lives; however, knowing they are in the world and positively impacting the lives around them is a huge reward.