Some people are lucky enough to have their grown children living nearby. Their whole family in fact pretty much sticks close to the town or at least the state where they were born. They have lunch together on Sunday afternoons and send the leftovers home with whoever wants them. They borrow coats and books and angel food cake pans, and they say hey, let's see a movie next week. They go to ballgames and the farmers market and that new restaurant a neighbor said was good.
And some people live in England while their babies attend university in America.
Or they live on the East Coast while their little girl and the boy she married live on the West Coast.
Or they teach school like a grown up in South Carolina, miles and miles and miles from you.
If your grown children live nearby you may not relate to the cycle of feelings one experiences when children live a day or flight or ocean away. How you start counting down the days on the calendar until 'next time' before 'this time' even gets here. How the anticipation and excitement of seeing your child in the flesh bubbles up in the weeks before a visit, and you know you need to squash that down a little, because they will come and go in what feels like the blink of an eye. You want to throw your heart wide open, but a part of you understands the need for a little self-preservation too.
You know from years of practice that after every hello there will be a goodbye, and that goodbye will hover over your time together if you let it. You understand all too well the supreme effort required to push the end of a visit to the actual end so you don't spend all day Saturday thinking about that airport run on Sunday. You learn something important.
You learn to be present.
We are those people. Those parents whose children have lived away from home since graduating from high school. Whose every trip back to us, to home, has required massive logistics, airports, delays, dollars, lost luggage, traffic jams, toll booths, connections, and hour upon hour in a car-train-plane. We've made peace with this because you cannot show your children the world, tell them it's theirs for the taking, and then demand they live next door.
No I don't think you can.
Do I want to?
Mostly I'm so thankful to see my daughters flourish in a world that is hard and often harsh. To see them chase their dreams and live out goals they set for themselves before they could even articulate them as such. To watch as they seek out and follow God's call on their lives.
I absolutely love having young adult children. I love their wit and their style and their compassion and their brains. My once upon a time baby girls have grown into the women I always imagined they would be, only better. They're interesting, independent, funny, and smart. I'm completely amazed at the way genes combine to give us children who are uniquely themselves, yet so much like us we recognize a turn of the wrist or a tilt of the head...their smallest hint of displeasure unexpressed and the drive behind that furrowed brow. A smile that springs from somewhere deep.
If you're in the throws of toddlerhood or living out the drama of the middle years, know the young adult years are worth every ounce of sweat and love and prayer you're pouring in today.
Keep loving well.
We moved into an apartment in South Carolina last Saturday. The same apartment complex my Daughter2 calls home. I can't explain how much I love our new living situation. Yesterday hubs and I were pulling out of a shopping center and noticed someone waving to us from the red light across the street. It was my girl! I guess that sounds a little silly, but y'all we're neighbors and just knowing she's nearby, within walking distance actually, makes my heart sing.
We had breakfast with her last Sunday, I helped set up her classroom on Monday, she walked over for dinner on Tuesday, and on Wednesday she and I enjoyed an hour of mindless but awesome TV aka Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team. Then I walked the few yards home and she did some work to prepare for the new school year.
When your family lives hundreds or thousands of miles away, every trip back, every single visit, requires moving in with them, operating out of suitcases, interrupting routines, settling for makeshift-it's only for a few days-kind of living. We're used to this, and since our extended families are spread out still we'll continue doing so because it's family and we love them.
But I feel like I've been given a little gift here. A bright spot in the midst of what has been literally nine years of schlepping bags and boxes, of longing for just one more day, one more hour, one more minute of in person time with my girls.
Sometime in the next year we'll move again, still nearby but not within walking distance. Daughter2 will also re-locate one day, and Daughter1 will definitely move from the west coast to ???, maybe closer maybe further and I celebrate that, I really do. I celebrate their willingness to meet life head on, to set down roots, but also to pick them up and re-plant somewhere new when change comes calling.
And it will come calling, again and again and again, which is why I'm going to settle in. I'm going to breathe deeply and embrace with my whole heart this season of geographic nearness. Years of hello and goodbye have taught me a great appreciation for the now.
My feet are so ready for the now, for walking yards instead of miles....