Between video chats with our son stationed overseas, our daughter flits in and out our door from college while the shoe jungle by the front door and lack of peanut butter in the house are proof our youngest adult son is still under our roof.
Our kids are now independent—almost.
Gone are the days of diapers, endless food preparations, naps (well, not for me), and announcing everyone’s daily schedule like a calendar drill sergeant.
After years of simultaneously spinning multiple plates on various body parts, we managed—by God’s grace—to raise three kids to adulthood.
We made it! (High five!)
We raised our kids and lived to tell about it.
Things are supposed to be easy now, right?
Now we can coast for the rest of our lives. Well, not exactly.
New phases bring new challenges.
Instead of dealing with potty training and homework, we are now dealing with out-of-state moves (both us and kids), career and job choices, home buying, aging parents, and our own mid-life issues, etc.
It can feel a little depressing. Just when we thought we were home free and could take a breather, we realize a whole other level waits—one we knew nothing about.
We reached the coveted summit only to find it was the first summit. More mountains rise before us. And forget thinking we’ve done this before, we can do this in our sleep.
We have a new team, new tools, new obstacles, and new methods which must be learned and used to succeed in this new adventure.
Like anything new, we must prime the brain pump to start learning again. Yes, the temptation is to coast, relax, and not think—for a while anyway.
School is now in session.
It is time to clear the cobwebs and get our synapse firing again. If you are like me, you didn’t realize you’d need to go back to school at this point.
After surviving sleepless nights, cleaning up various bodily fluids ad nauseum (pun intended), and happily handing over your hard-earned money so junior could have the childhood you never did, you stand proud of a job well done.
But the on-the-job training continues—and God made it that way.
God can use all our relationships to refine us (marriage anyone?).
As our families change and grow, so must we. We get the opportunity to keep learning, loving, and nurturing our families in the way they need.
We can accomplish this by gaining wisdom. The Bible tells us repeatedly to get wisdom and understanding and even search for it as hidden treasure.
Fear not. Wisdom for loving a growing family is available in abundance through prayer, Scripture, books, blogs, podcasts, etc.
While this new phase may catch us off guard, we approach it with trepidation yet hopeful expectation.
This phase holds the very real promise of reward from all the years of service and sacrifice.
Our hesitation in this new phase can stem from its irregular shape. It’s terrain and borders are unknown at first, but with experience, it too can feel like home. With effort and a willingness to change, these new family dynamics can become a new well-worn path that serves us—and our family members—well.
Plus, now that it is just the two of us again we get to embrace all the freedoms of our pre-kids relationship.
Wanna go to dinner . . . now? Sure. Stay in and watch an uninterrupted movie in bed by ourselves? Umm, yeah! Enjoy intimacy minus the stealth of Mission Impossible? Woo hoo!
And we get to anticipate an expanding family with weddings and grandchildren someday.
We can’t expect perfection though.
Praise God we can rest in the fact no one is perfect—not us or our children or their children, etc.
While we had grace for our children when they were small, now is the time to have more grace—and a little thicker skin—with our kids. Our grace quotient needs to expand to ourselves and their significant others as well for decisions and choices made on both sides.
Now is our chance to keep loving them the way God loves them. And to do that, we must be willing to receive from God everything we need to do just that.