Let's just get that out on the table right up front.
I am a mess.
My baby is graduating in eight days. My baby.
I think most of you know this, but in case you don't, we have homeschooled all our children from the beginning. All the way through to the end.
I taught them to read. I listened to literally HOURS of dry, no emotion, labored, early reading voices read out loud to me while I struggled to stay awake through it. I and my husband have spent hundreds of hours reading books aloud to our kids. I've learned and re-learned penmanship, math, history, science, language arts. I've gone on field trips to everywhere you can imagine. Turned vacations into science labs and history lessons. Cried over algebra 2 and the higher sciences because I just. did. not. get. it. Fought with stubborn kids that did not want to do their work. Threatened to send them away. Wept in the corner on days that I felt like an utter failure. Rejoiced when they got it. Watched their eyes light up when it finally soaked in. Watched them find their passions and pursue them with abandon.
I wouldn't change any of that - not. one. second.
I've never dropped my kid off at the front of the school building and watched their precious little legs carry themselves away from me. I've never stood at a bus stop and watched them take too-big steps onto the bus that would carry them away for the first time. I've never trusted another person to take them from me for seven hours a day, five days a week, for thirteen years. Never.
So when each of them have made their way into the world, it's all those small, heart-breaking goodbyes rolled into one huge, earth-shattering, heart-crushing goodbye.
I don't do it well.
When our daughter moved out, I was depressed for weeks. Depressed, guys.
I thought it would be easier when the middle kid moved out, because now I have perspective, right? I know that I was sad, but I lived. It was scary, but the first one flourished. So we'll get through this one a little easier, right? Wrong.
I was depressed for weeks. Depressed.
Now it's time for the baby. I've survived a second moving out. I've watched a second one flourish. Should be better, right?
It's the baby. And true to form - as he has done from the first day of his life on this planet - this kid is going out in a blaze. India. India, people! For three months, leaving in September. And if that wasn't horrific enough, he's now dropped the bomb that he would like to go live with his brother this summer and focus on his music in a big way before he leaves. So, even though it was bad enough that he's going to the other side of the globe in four months...what he'd really like to do is move out in two weeks.
I'm dyin' here...
I've thought a lot about what I would change if I could do this whole thing over again. The list is too long and too overwhelming to even begin to recount here. The mistakes have been abundant - as they are for all parents. I've apologized to my kids more times that I can even say. I pray that the mistakes weren't too scarring, too much for them to overcome.
When we stand on the precipice of launching them into adulthood, we consider all the things we could have done different - better.
But I also want to think about what we did right.
We've told our kids since the second child was born that they would always be each other's best friends. I don't think they really believed us, but we said it anyway - like a mantra. They fought. They picked. They taunted and competed and pushed each others' buttons. "You're best friends, remember?" Over and over and over. They're adults now. And they're friends. (They still pick and taunt and compete, by the way, but not quite as often and usually with a little more jest in it than they used to.)
We showed them what it looks like for mom and dad to love each other. At least I think we did. We didn't fake unity - they knew we were/are nothing alike and often don't agree on the best way to handle something - but they saw us work as a team. I want them to know that they can and should expect a healthy, fun, positive, affectionate, committed relationship with their current (our daughter is already married) and future spouses - it's worth working for. It won't always be perfect, or easy. But it will always be worth it.
We did things together. We worked together. Served together. Played together. Decorated Christmas trees. Made Christmas ornaments. Went on mission trips. Cleaned out the garage. Cooked, cleaned, raised animals. Sang songs. Laughed. Cried. I hope we've passed on the value of family. The joy of family.
We taught them to think. To be respectful, but to not just swallow whole the legalism that is easily and often thrown at us. God is our ever-present Teacher and they can trust Him to show them the right way. To get wise counsel, to seek wisdom, to study, learn, grow. That they won't always have the answers and it's okay to ask for help. To be themselves, passionately and well.
We've tried to teach them to think outside themselves. To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with their God. To work to change the lives of the downtrodden and the forgotten. To remember they are blessed so that they can bless others.
I pray we've taught them to love Jesus.
We did some things very well. We really screwed up some things. We encouraged. We yelled. We prayed. We fretted. We applied discipline appropriately. We were way too strict. We were observant and wise. We were careless and missed important things.
But we can't go back. We can't change the mistakes we made. We pray for them, encourage them, love them, coach them, push them, pray for them some more. And sit down and let God be God.
They will do some things with glorious, trail-blazing success. They will.
They will make mistakes. Some of them perhaps big ones. They will.
God is God. He will love them through both success and failure. He will offer second, third, fourth...chances. he will redeem it all.