Changes aren’t among my favorite things. Let me qualify that. Changes I can’t control tie my stomach in knots. And my stomach was in a wretched mess for pretty much of August.
Andrew and Aiden’s wedding was the first change and, thankfully, a quite happy one. The timing was definitely a blessing. Their festivities helped me not dwell on the fact that Zechariah became a teenager that day.
Teenager. It sounds so much older than middle-schooler. But so did kindergartner, first-grader, and fifth-grader. I look at Zechariah’s 3rd grade first-day-of-school picture on our refrigerator and compare his little face to the face of the young man I sent off to school today. So many changes.
Thanks to A & A’s wedding again, I only had moments to contemplate other major changes and, thus, avoided a major meltdown: the brand new pathways to be traveled by the Rodil sisters.
Kristin left for Georgetown and is no longer “just down the road.” She’s in her first apartment, cooking for herself, and experiencing life in a big city. And she’s officially crossed over from “big girl” to “young adult” as she pursues her studies in law school.
Julie is, for the first time, just “Julie.” She has always been her own person, but this year she will experience life on her own. Julie is flying solo doing “big girl” stuff at William & Mary.
And then there’s Lindsey. A junior in high school this year. When I let my mind wander too much I start thinking how she’ll be a senior all too soon. Then she goes and gets her driving permit.
There were many times last month that the pit in my stomach was so full of those knots that I didn’t think I could breath. The changes meant that our little ones are growing up. And for me, for some reason, that thought has been tearing (pronounced either or both ways) me up.
Then it came. One of those “breakthrough moments.”
Zechariah reminded me of our day-before-the-first-day-of-school tradition.
When Zechariah was starting kindergarten, we woke him up early Labor Day and took him out to Cracker Barrel. We wanted to get him used to his school schedule. We did that Labor Day ritual for about 2 more years. Then he decided he wanted breakfast in bed the day before school started so he could watch TV early in the morning.
So yesterday morning, we woke Zechariah up early and gave him the traditional breakfast-in-bed. Then in the evening, after family devotion and preparations for bed, we had our little Mommy-Son bedtime conversation, Mommy’s prayer after his silent prayer, and the turning on of the alarm clock.
The tradition of reading to Zechariah before bedtime had long passed. I told him I missed it. He agreed it was nice but said it didn’t interest him anymore. Then, perhaps for my benefit more than his, he asked me to stay with him to help him sleep. As his lullaby music gently filled his room, he held my hand to his chest and drifted off to sleep.
Not too long ago, my thirteen-year-old smiled and announced that he was excited to become an adult. During one of our precious family outings he had seen a convertible. He remembered how Mama had promised to buy him one when he was old enough to drive. So when he announced how he couldn’t wait to grow up, it was in hopeful anticipation of getting a job and owning a convertible of his own.
Zechariah’s statement jabbed at my heart for a moment. I wasn’t ready for him to grow up—to be a teenager, to be in eighth grade. But he was looking forward to adulthood. And as he told us his plans, I realized that he was including us in them. He wasn’t anxious to grow up to get away from us. He was anticipating the wonder of his future life, and we were still very much a part of it.
Changes can’t be stopped. Neither can the growing up of our kids. And rightly so.
Yahweh has blessed us with healthy children who are able to grow—body, mind, and spirit. It’s our job as parents to prepare them for life so that they meet the changes successfully and make the right choices.
But thank Yahweh for traditions—those moments, whether they stay the same or change with time, that will keep us connected to our children no matter how grown up they get.
Those traditions help make changes…well…exciting.