It’s been two months since we dropped our youngest off at college. I thought I was ready for the “empty nest”. I was wrong.
The unmade bed. The almost-empty glasses of milk left overnight on the end table. Shoes and socks and athletic gear piled by the door. I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I MISS THE MESS!
I almost broke down in tears at the grocery store one day. On almost every aisle, I passed some item that I would usually have picked up to bring home for Luke. I found myself actually reaching for one or two, then remembering, “Oh, wait. He’s at school…seven hours away.” Frozen foods almost did me in when I passed the cookies and cream ice cream, his favorite.
My daughters might say it’s because he’s not only the youngest, but the favorite as well. The youngest, yes, but favorite…of course, we love them all the same. It’s just that for the past three years, with the older two away (and each time it broke my heart to turn around and drive away), Luke’s been here.
Three years of basketball and soccer and swimming. Two years of homeschooling. Watching “our” television shows together in the evening. Still cooking for five because he could eat that much! Worrying when it was getting late and he wasn’t home yet. A few more gray hairs – mine, not his. Three years of Len and Luke and me doing the day-to-day of life together.
But it’s the end of a season. All three of our kids are young adults. Yes, they still need us. We’re still paying bills. Advice is still sought. Twenty-three of twenty-six years of our married life were dedicated to raising our children. But, for the most part, the raising of them is done. And I find myself asking, “Did we do enough? Did we do it right?” Maybe you have asked yourself the same question.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 exhorts us as parents to do the following: “Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” (The Message) Don’t we all pray that Jesus and His word gets inside of us and inside our children? As we live our love for God out loud, we pray they have ears to hear. Then we launch them out into a world that is increasingly opposed to or ignorant of His word. But God goes with them. As do all those years of teaching, disciplining, correcting, encouraging and loving.
Whatever stage of parenting we find ourselves in, we must still live our love for God out loud. Whether our children are underfoot or miles away, they need to see His word is written on our hearts and lived out in our home. After all, Thanksgiving is only 52 days away and they’ll all be back!