I’m not sure how we got here so fast, but Sarah and I find ourselves the parents of three teenagers. Maddie is 18, Jake is 16, and Riley is nearly 14.
Life has taken a weird form for us. We negotiate multiple schedules, wade through the daily deluge of mail from colleges for the older two, and work through big decisions based on imminent empty-nester status.
This is all very unsettling to me. Where has the time gone?
I’ve been trying to get my head around all of this on my walks recently. I don’t think I’m getting anywhere close.
But I’m struck by the same few thoughts.
First, I’m impressed by my parents. I’m discovering that it takes wisdom to change and adapt as children develop and grow. Looking back, my parents did this pretty well.
Second, I really like our kids. They’re smart, funny, and really interesting.
When Sarah and I were (far too) young parents of small children, we inhabited a church community very anxious about raising perfect kids. How else would God be glorified but through perfectly-behaved 3 year-olds who could sit quietly through long church services?
I can see now that “God’s glory” was just rhetoric that masked parental pride, but all that social pressure made us pretty frustrated and miserable parents.
It’s been ages since we stopped treating them as projects and began enjoying them as people. That was a big turn for us, and we find ourselves seriously delighting in our kids.
Third, I’m going to really miss them. Conceivably, Maddie and Jake will both move out of the house in the next year and a half.
This is tough to think about.
I find myself alternately initiating two very different conversations. One day, I’m talking about choosing a major, and the next I’m encouraging them to consider taking a year out before heading off to college.
I’m not looking forward to their leaving home.
Fourth, in the modern West, raising kids often coincides with building a career. It isn’t easy to give both the attention they require. I don’t know what else to say about that other than this arrangement is ripe for disaster.
Fifth, If I ever write a parenting book, I’m going to title it, Don’t Worry, You’ll Screw It Up: But If You Learn to Laugh at Yourself, They’ll Love You Anyway.