It was a rainy spring day in 2008. Some of our family lived nearby and some lived farther away. JJ had just turned seven, and Ava was about to turn five. I'm not quite sure what I was thinking, but I sat down and Googled, "how to create a blog" and Blogger's website popped up. I hadn't given it much thought really, I just started an account and began writing. It took me a few days to learn how to turn on my camera and upload photos onto the computer, and even longer to figure out how to post them within my new blog.
It began as a way to document life with kids... I didn't know if any of my family would be excited to see and read about it at the time. As life unfolded, it became a gift to myself. A place to connect with so many of you and share my heart, ideas, faith, and the occasional kid-filled stories. It was a great place to escape when I was homeschooling, often being my only contact with other Mama's during those days. But it's always had a big place in my heart as it documented the growth and changes happening in my life. I've found that I am often so encouraged by vomiting out my vulnerabilities and struggles and encouragements along the way. Being transparent, and offering it as a gift.
Rain is pouring from our gutters, and the skies are "Washington gray" once again. As I sit down to edit photos and prepare this post, it's clear that I've come to another place of change. I'm hoping those of you who have gone a little before me can nod your head and promise me that this is inevitable... the way things are supposed to be, and encourage me on. You're so good at that. Maybe as you comment in, those of us with younger children in our care will be reassured...
And the place I'm speaking of, is learning to let go and make room for growth. JJ is eleven now, and pushing for independence in various places. Adrain is really good at letting him be a boy and "go for it." Me... not so much. I still see my baby in so many ways. Is that normal? I look at this gangly boy with long, skinny limbs and want to fold him up on my lap and rock him like I used to. (For the record, he still attempts that, but is now only inches shorter than I am and it's getting harder and harder for him to fit on my lap.)
Adrain and I both grew up in small counties. I was a country girl before it was cool, living in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it-town in Montana. When I was eleven, I remember hitting the banana seat, ditching it beside a creek, and jumping off rocks and swinging way out from low-hanging willow branches. I remember friends cooking creek trout over a fire we somehow made with leaves and branches and never told our parents about. I remember no cell phones, no worries, and having to be back when my dad whistled really loud, it started to get dark, or front porch lights flickered on and off. I remember getting into problems and solving them all by myself. I remember that we didn't worry too much about strangers because we knew every car and person in town and if someone we didn't know happened to drive down our gravel road, everyone on the street was staring at them, so surely they felt those watchful eyes and towed the line.
I don't remember a lot of restrictions. I remember glorious freedom. I remember friends with horses, saddles optional, and I remember getting sweaty and covered in dirt, every. single. day. I remember going away to summer camp for a week and only mildly missing my parents. Most of what I remember was fun. And here's where I come to the point. I don't live in that world anymore. None of us do, and I'm not very confident on how to navigate the waters of letting go in today's world. This morning, my first baby... my nearly-as-tall-as-me sized boy got onto his bike, and excitedly rode off down the road to school by himself. It's not that far away... maybe a mile? But it's my JJ. And lest you read this and think I'm an overprotective freak (which of course I may be) please remember that JJ has always been a unique parenting deal for us... different from most of our friends which makes it difficult to relate and often find parent mentors that approach the thing from the same side. With his diagnosed issues, we haven't been in a place of peace as his parents, trusting him to consistently make right choices. Not that he makes constant bad choices... but he requires more structure than most kids his age. Rules that don't seem to apply to others his age, still very much apply to JJ for various reasons that would take too long to detail here.
Yet in spite of that, I know it's time to begin loosening the reigns. I don't want to squash his adventurous spirit, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't freak me out of my mind worrying that he'll do the right thing, go the right place and come home safely if I'm not watching over him. I would like to add, that in my particular situation, his diagnosed issues are merely in the realm of
impulsivity, not capability. That's all I'll say on that because I prefer to keep his diagnosis on the down-low. 1) Because my son can actually read my blog and 2) I never want to give too
many details now that we know what the issues really are as a privacy safeguard. I do share in general terms because so many of you are able to relate in many ways. Also I do want
to clarify that we did pray about it last night while making the decision, and he
found another neighborhood boy to ride with before we ever gave the go-ahead.
We also sent him with a cell phone and he called upon arriving at
school. It was well planned and thought out on our part as parents.
So my question to you is, how do you let go when you sense it's the right time? I know this is only the beginning... How do you trust them to be safe in an unsafe world even if you pray over them constantly? How do you find any peace with the changes you have to make as they grow?
(And you still have until Friday to enter my giveaway, here.)