Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jellyfish

Jellyfish.  The little, clear ones that don't really sting too bad. 

That's what I remember the most about staying at Cape May, New Jersey as a child.  We came out at dusk to walk on the beach and there were jellyfish everywhere, making walking kind of like trying to avoid the colored circles in Twister.  

But there was an enormous house a block off the ocean and we stayed there with another family.  It had a huge wooden banister, the kind that begs to be ridden, and lots of white bedrooms with white linens.  It was so unlike our house; we were very avocado and sunshine yellow and lots of other things the 70's are famous for.  Having a totally different environment was refreshing and renewing.

Fast forward roughly thirty years:  I am in a brand new environment that was very different, yet not refreshing and renewing.  Divorce has those ways about it.  But as I learned, I was building new habits that would become my "new normal."  

And now that I have stayed up enough nights and been to enough open houses and proofread enough English assignments, I have two that have graduated high school and both are away to college this fall.  And this is my "new normal."  I'm actually budgeting my income and I'm planning ways to specifically spend time with the younger daughter, which I'm really looking forward to.  I just have to learn how to talk less and listen more, which can be a lot like dodging jellyfish.  

Ecclesiastes 3:14 says, "I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him."  

I am so thrilled that I have seen God work to get my two older children to the college He has for them.  I can only give God the praise for what has transpired over the last year in regards to college decisions.  I am totally in awe, and I look forward to the future, and my new normal.


However, I am hoping for less jellyfish-like problems that leave me totally clueless; but then again, I get to totally rely on God during those times.  So here's to jellyfish for me, and for you!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Beauty of the Here and Now, or My Catharsis from Children Going Away to College

Raising children is not only like a lot like herding cats, but it's also like trying to melt an iceberg with a hairdryer -- it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort, and by the time you're finished what you thought you had to begin with is not the end product. 

A child starts out being tiny and cute; they go through these awkward years and they become wonderful young adults.  And THEN, virtually overnight in some cases, this child, who you rocked to sleep countless nights, cleaned up his vomit, looked at the same wiggly tooth a hundred times, and watched their amazing pool handstands over and over,wants to hang out with his friends and do his own thing.  (And I use his as a generic term.)

How does this happen?  What goes on in the synapses of their brains?  I guess I did the same thing, but I was a lot more shallow and self-absorbed than any of my kids, even all my kids put together.  I only went away to college because I was dating someone fairly inappropriate and my parents wanted to put some distance between us.  Somehow they grow up, and this month I send my two oldest to college twelve and six hours away from home (respectively).

I can't lie; I am sad that they are leaving. But at the same time I see how talented and intelligent and charming and funny my kids are, and I wonder how they got this way, because it's easier to remember the mistakes I made than the good things I did -- like how I remember closing Matt's hand in the van door more than I remember making cupcakes for fifteen class birthday parties.

And then, like a ray of parent hope, there's that little flickering, brief, flash-of-a-moment where I see that my child is just like me. Maybe it's a look, or the way they tell a joke. Although each child is definitely going to go his own way, it's that little brief moment that reminds me that wherever they go, whatever they end up doing, they'll always carry a little part of me with them.  And that's good enough for me.