When I met Mark, he lived in upstate New York. I lived in Arkansas. My mother seemed to be on edge the entire time we were in the long distance relationship. I can remember when I boarded the airplane for New York for the very first time. My mother stood at the gate window (it is so hard to believe we used to could do that!) looking at the airplane crying. I watched her bury her face in dad’s shoulder.
I knew why she was crying. But it wasn’t until just last night I truly understood.
Mom was anxious….. not because I was in this relationship, nor because she was afraid of me traveling to New York…… No. It was because life was changing. She knew that there was a possibility that I could move away. She saw in her mind the picture of her children living in far away places. Once she realized Mark was moving to Arkansas, her nerves settled down…. somewhat.
Now that I think about it…… when my little brother went away for college, mom reacted the same way.
I get it now.
Because. Last night, we sat down for dinner together as a family. It has been a long while since we have done so. Between exercise classes, band practices, Bible studies, kids both staying over friends’ houses, and any other activity that interferes with dinner time, we haven’t had much time around the table. But last night, we sat together sharing our day with each other and enjoying the company.
I missed it. I missed sitting around the table talking. Used to when the evenings got crazy we picked up the slack at breakfast. But, with one teenager and one almost teen, pretty much the only conversation at 6am is nothing but tribal grunts.
It was last night that I realized that in the near future things were about to really change. My daughter will be wanting to get a job, to go away for college, and eventually move out permanently. And by the time I adjust to that change, my son will be following big sister’s footsteps.
I understand, now. I get it. Because I remember when I was my daughter’s age, I started working, going to college, and preparing to move out on my own. Mom faced the same exact changes I am now staring down. As a kid, we had dinner together every night and when we couldn’t we had breakfast. Then it changed.
And if mom was here today, I bet she would tell me that it wasn’t just the fact change was happening but worry if whether or not she and dad had prepared me to leave the nest. Because, that is what I am worrying over now.
Have I really prepared my soon to be adult children to face the “real world?” Proverbs 22:6 says, “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Training children. Hmmmm…..
I think it means a whole lot more than doing the chores around the house, learning to cook, and to have good work ethics. Training entails how to have great interpersonal skills, a love for family, and how to respect others. It is done by example. In Bible times, the training involved learning God’s love, practicing it, and modeling it. In fact, Deuteronomy 6:4-7 states, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
I see evidence of training especially in my daughter since she is the oldest and closest to leaving the nest. She tells potential prospects for boyfriends that she is old fashioned and wants her family to get to know them before she will commit to dating. She requests others to respect her by not cussing around her. She paints canvases with her favorite Bible verses. She enjoys going to church. She has never had to be told to go. She understands the importance of worship and studying the Bible along with Chemistry, History, and English. Hopefully, my son will follow her lead when the time comes.
So, I guess training has got to take on a new shape. Mark and I have taught the values now we have to train how to put them into everyday practice. Soon my children will be facing choices that are of this world and will be making their own personal decisions as to what to do with those choices. The shift in training will take form as we make the most of family time together…… and to have Jesus right smack dab in the middle of it. Now is the time for us to teach how to love God with our hearts, minds, and souls. It is time to teach how to make decisions by involving God. It is modeling how to have a real meaningful relationship with God.
I don’t want to feel anxious like mom. I want to show my kids how to lean on God during times of change by leaning on God, myself. I don’t want to be the freaked out mom when conflict arises. I want to be the mom who prays and then deals with the conflict with confidence.
I guess….. I am banking on Proverbs 22:6.