Sunday, July 1, 2012

When freedom rings ...

We've been "empty-nesters" for eight and a half  years, now.  Gone are the days when I dashed after toddlers, changed diapers, settled arguments, wiped noses and bandaged boo-boos.

Sometimes it's a little too quiet around here, especially when I start reminiscing about the "good ole days."  Though we pray for our children daily and miss them dearly, there is a certain freedom in knowing they are grown and able to care for themselves.

Our children, at ages 26, 30 and 32, no longer need an ever-watchful eye to keep them out of danger.  They don't have to be reminded to brush their teeth, make their beds and eat their veggies.  Neither do we hold their hands to cross the street or tuck them in with a prayer at night. 

Do I miss those days?  Oh, yeah!  My mommy heart remembers those sweet moments, and that's when I start longing to hear from our kiddos.  Like couldn't they call tonight?  Or better yet, right now?  But they aren't children anymore; they are adults living away from home, all able to do their own chores, choose their own meals and set their own schedules.  Because we taught them those things when they were young, they don't need us to hover over them at this point.

Yes, the "letting go" and giving our children freedom is difficult.  At the same time, I'm amazed that some parents insist that their grown children call home daily.  We haven't done that for several reasons: First, if they aren't old enough to manage on their own without our advice, it's a little late now, isn't it?  Second, if they feel the obligation to call, there can be little joy in such a debt.  Last, but not least, we don't want them to put us before their own spouses and families if they want a healthy, happy home life.

The Bible says children are to "leave and cleave" to their spouses when they set up housekeeping.  This is God's plan for healthy marriages and good relationships between spouses and their parents and in-laws.  It's a good thing when families can stay in touch, enjoy meals together and make sure their children spend time with the grandparents.  But to demand it or make comments that put pressure on them only causes tension and rifts in relationships.

After raising our own three children over a period of 23 years and homeschooling them for 18 of those years, Phillip and I have a lot invested in them -- time, energy, money, but most of all, love.  It's not my desire to make them feel they "owe" us now for our investment.

But I am still a Mom, and my heart aches to hear their voices.  I also like hearing my sweet grandchildren breathe into the phone or giggle in the background.  And when they say, "Hi, Nana,"  my heart does a double flip flop.  If I could, I'd reach through the phone line, cover the distance and give them a big Nana hug!

Sometimes I wish they would call more often, but in all fairness, I have to look back to my own young adult life and how busy I was as a newlywed or a young mother.  There seemed little or no time to stop and call home, and when I did, my three kiddos were destined to spill something, load a diaper or cause and crash and then whisper "Don't tell Mom!"

In looking back on those years, I can be more understanding as a parent.  My own parents must have longed to hear from me more often, but they were giving me freedom to develop as a young adult and didn't insist on scheduled "updates." When our children call, we want to enjoy the conversation, affirm them in their efforts and be available if they need to ask something.  We want them to see calling home as a blessing, not an obligation. 

Yes, there are times when a week goes by that we don't hear a peep from any of them.  It's tempting to pick up the phone, but the Lord fills my heart with His peace and reminds me -- "You taught them to fly and they are flying!" 

Yes, they are, and there is freedom in that. Giving our children wings is a blessing all around.  It is part of God's plan for healthy, happy families to establish their own homes, their own routines and their own traditions.  As parents, we need to give them their freedom and applaud their efforts along the way.

Have a wonderful 
and blessed July 4th --
"Independence Day."

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