Too many times I've tried to pack in some last minute teaching as one of our kids heads out the door. It's often before a big event like the first day of a new school, prom, first day of college, and every time they're driving somewhere. I see the eyes roll, and the inevitable response comes back. 'I know!'
Not many days ago my eldest moved out from home to an apartment. He's getting married in a few days time so this had to happen. I knew it was coming. We spent the day together as a family ferrying his stuff from one side of the city to the other. It's not the first time we've moved him. I remember taking him to his digs at college a few year ago now. He has proved he can live independently. He is fine without us! Coming back to live at home after college was a way to save money and pay back his student loan while he worked.
The difference this time is – this is it. He's going to be married. He won't be coming home in quite the same way ever again, even if he does live in the same city.
Early in the morning of the moving day I got up and baked a few favourites to sustain us through the day. I think subconsciously or not I was trying to prolong the hanging around time at home, and remind him there will always be baking to enjoy when he comes over!
Since he was small this day has been coming. I see all of our memories of him growing up in fast forward. The first wail, the nights pacing up and down trying to settle him, his first steps, his first demolition project (knocking down an old brick barbecue), birthday parties, family holiday fun, sports days, school assemblies, and the way the kids all used to play together. The phases of tractors, toy soldiers, lego, transformers, robot wars, video games. Music from Busted to Dream Theater. The first time he played in the worship band. The sound of the drums vibrating the whole house around ten minutes after he comes through the door. Then all of a sudden it's here. Our baby boy has grown into a man.
I want to pause for a minute. I feel like we need a bit more time. Have we taught him all he needs to know? Have we been good enough parents?
As he pauses at the door once the last load is in his car, I resist the urge to spout wisdom and instead shout, 'Love you!'
'Thanks for the last twenty-one years!' His reply.
And that, my friends, is the thing. We've had twenty-one years raising this man. It's not much good trying to pack in last minute wisdom in a brief 30 second lesson at the door. What he has learned about life is in the days and years of being in this family, seeing us at our best and at our worst – it's in our conversations at meal times, bed times and all the other times. What sticks will be all of those experiences in the relationship we've built with him, it's the things we've chosen to expose him to, the fun we've had, the love we've given. Time with our kids is precious for this reason.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ESV
In the end I trust God, praying each of my kids know of Jesus will stick with them and they will in turn trust Him for their lives. Thankfully the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts in ways I can't. I know Jesus will never leave their side whatever life brings. As precious as all the memories of them growing up are, I'm excited to see them have their own adventures, build their own families, follow God's call for their lives. This is what we've raised them for.