I’ve had so much I want to write about lately but there always seems to be an excuse. I forget, get busy, can’t remember the main points I wanted to express, or I just plain feel too tired. So, let start with an update….
My youngest turns 18 tomorrow… Yes. I feel it. But it didn’t spring up on me; I’ve seen it coming. She’s always been a good, fairly responsible kid (c’mon, she’s a teenager after all) but ever since she got her driver’s license, I’ve witnessed her independence grow exponentially. She works and goes to school, always concerned with homework being done before bed; consciously packing her course schedule in order to graduate with Academic Honors, planning her career path with counselors and teachers carefully and thoughtfully. While I do have times where I miss my kids needing me on a daily basis, I admit this ‘new’ way of living holds such new excitement for me. C’mon! It’s been 22 years! I’m already experiencing being a parent to ‘adults’ with my oldest son being in the Army and my other son moving there to work on base. We’ve dealt with the ‘first apartment’, the ‘first serious girlfriend’, the ‘first serious breakup’…and I am proud to say, no matter what the issue was/is, they have come to me to talk, to get advice, to vent, to ask for help or to get my input. I’ve always had an open door, open heart policy. It’s definitely a different ball game, but…nice.
Through this I have realized that we never just stop being parents once they ‘come of any age’ – we just parent differently. We don’t demand near as much – cleaning your room is your business so long as you are paying the bills…but that doesn’t mean I won’t suggest a visit to the Laundromat or the value of investing in new kitchen sponges. (hee-hee!) The game is different now. Now we must prepare them for the real world and all its loopholes and rules – like what it means to sign a contract, how to manage a budget, what jobs to accept or turn down, how to know when you are ready for marriage, when it’s time to walk away or how to let go of someone who wants to leave…and so forth. Of all the things I’ve taught my kids to this point, I thought I was doing fairly decent – no one is perfect, but I was feeling pretty good. Then, I was caught off guard by one major, life changing event I thought I had prepared my daughter to avoid…
She came to me as I was going to sleep and confided in me that she thought she was pregnant. She has been on the pill for several years now, she knows better. Right? This can’t be. All I could think of was all the ways we could invalidate a test back in my day: shake it, touch it…a false reading was so common, surely she messed up. I had her take another and it came back negative…**sigh**. Although false, it gave me a sense of peace and I was able to salvage some sleep, yet…I had read the instructions and you are not suppose to over drink in order to ‘take’ the test. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘somehow the 6 positives she had gotten before telling me, HAD to be wrong’.
That morning, we woke at 5:30a…POSITIVE. I cried. What about her future? Her education? I remember all the times I struggled, feeling alone, helpless and out of my league. She is far more than I was at her age, prepared and ready to take life by the horns – a superior student with college goals?? She has everything to excel: smarts, looks, personality, spiritually, education – I called my sister who is 15 years my senior and much like my second mom growing up. She told me, “Angie, think about it this way, you can’t put it back. It’s here. Consider it a blessing.” And THAT was the turning point for me.
This news was not about death, it’s about LIFE. No. It’s not the right time, but thank God we no longer live in an age where the scorned mother has to go hide somewhere until the birth and thank God the Dad is an active and willing participant. Now, let me say straight off that I don’t approve of getting pregnant before marriage – it’s a hard and rocky road for both the parent and the kid. I was lucky. I had very supportive, loving folks. I wouldn’t have made it without them, and in turn, I wouldn’t have been driven to succeed like I have without my kids. I never gave up on them and they’ve never given up on me, and nothing is going to change that. Not only is our family built on love, it is built on determination, courage, strength, and faith. I will support my daughter just like my folks did…even more because I know how invaluable they were to me and my kids. It DOES take a village to raise a child, and that village starts right there within your own four walls. No. I won’t be her on-call babysitter and I won’t bail her out of trouble every time she calls, but I will be there, leading this little village of ours as I continue teaching her, guiding her, loving her and showing her how to fully embrace and enjoy the greatest responsibility and highest degree of selfless love that comes along with parenthood. There ain’t nothing like it. She can do this…I just know it. This, my friends, is a blessing. Thank you Jesus!
(SIDE NOTE: Keeping a baby might not be the best option for everyone. Before deciding, contact a professional who can guide you through the choices so that you can make the best decision for your circumstances. God bless. :))