The last few years have involved a few relatively major changes in my life. James and I have both hit the big 4-0, we graduated our oldest and sent him off the university, we celebrated 20 years of marriage, we both began a relatively intense process of deconstructing our faith, we opted to leave a church we have both been a part of since our early teen years, and we got a dog. That last one doesn’t register high on some people’s “major change” list but it certainly does mine!

Interestingly enough, I really didn’t think that any of these things, individually would be life-altering but having them all happen in the span of 18 months really threw me for a loop. The two most impactful experiences were definitely helping Sam navigate his way through his final year of high school and beginning to exam my faith from a different perspective. I think the latter kind of requires a post (or 100) of its own but reflecting on Sam’s grade 12 year is a bit more manageable in one go.

The Beginning of the End

Looking back, the process for graduation really does begin so much earlier than grade 12 with simple things like extending curfews, giving more responsibility at home, finding first jobs, etc. However, these things didn’t quite prepare me for both the tangible, practical chaos or the emotional chaos that comes with that final year. For those of you who know Sam, you understand that he is a solid kid. He’s got a passion for sport that is hard to match, he works so hard and never gives up. Despite sometimes feeling overwhelmed by classes, he gives his best and usually comes out relatively unscathed. Grade 12 was no different for him. He balanced classes with football season, then basketball season, and finally rugby season. All three seasons ending with provincial trips and culminated with an opportunity to play university football. Along the way we had some tough conversations about what would be best for him. I’ve had this conversation with some good friends about the reality of letting your kids make decisions that will impact their future and how difficult it is to truly step back and let them move forward into this unknown domain of adulthood.

I think we all remember the feeling of turning 18 or 19 and feeling absolutely confident that we were capable of making good decisions and no longer wanting the input of our parents. I mean, I remember that feeling… Looking back, I have to give kudos to my parents for their ability to step back and take their hands off trusting that all will be well. I thought because of the great example I had and all the mental preparation I’d done that the next step of releasing my oldest into adulthood would be easy. Boy was I wrong.

Sam’s last football before his team headed to the provincials. He played an amazing game!

I wasn’t prepared for his last high school football game, I wasn’t prepared for his grad lock-in, I wasn’t prepared for his last high school basketball game or taking him for a prom suit fitting or receiving MVP at his last high school rugby game. I definitely wasn’t prepared to watch him march through the gym, all handsome, for prom night. I was probably the least prepared to see him cross the stage and receive his diploma for graduation and then hug him close in his cap and gown as he grinned from ear to ear at having finally accomplished this milestone.

When all that was said and done, I felt certain that the emotions would settle but I wasn’t prepared to leave him at his dorm, drive away and have no way of knowing if he would be in that room every night, safely tucked away for a good night’s sleep, fully fed, happy, socially connected and ready to take on the world with the support of …?

First Weeks of training camp! My kid was struggling with some minor health concerns and they left him bone-tired. He really should have been flat on his back fast asleep but he put a smile on his face and kept at it.

Obviously he’s fine, he’s GREAT in fact and yes he is all those things that we hope for him but I don’t get to know as much as I did when he lived out the joys and challenges of life right under my nose. I have to be okay with hearing a fraction of what I used to and trusting that when he needs us, he knows where to find us.

I’m thankful that he still loves to come home, I’m hopeful that all my children will still love to come for a time until they fully settle into their own homes one day. That will likely bring an entirely new gamut of emotions which I hope I’ll be ready to face. The landscape of parenting is changing and I’m trying my hardest to enjoy all that comes with it.

I had this great moment of realization and reassurance awhile back.

My oldest was asked to babysit for a friend.  Her boys are at just the right age for his first experiences babysitting for someone other than his siblings all on his own.  I was impressed to see how enthusiastic he was in this adventure and her boys were happy to have a “boy babysitter”!  The thing is that I recognize how rare of an opportunity this is.  No matter how much of a natural instinct boys have for caring for children it is always going to be the girls that will get a call to babysit first.  I get it…when Sam and Jake were still young enough that they needed a sitter and the girls were just little I didn’t feel quite comfortable having another young man in the house to make sure they got into their jammies, tucked them in and give them a snuggle if they needed it.  Somehow that worked okay for a young woman to take care of those things with my boys but not the other way around.  Having said that I have met a few guys over the last few years that I may have reconsidered for and my experience as a momma of older boys has given me some perspective on that as well.

Continue reading

Okay so in keeping with the idea that my kids can have the opportunity to share a little about their lives on my blog here is a story Sam wrote for his Language Arts class.  The assignment was to re-write a classic Fairytale in a “broken” fashion…hence the assignment being titled “Fractured Fairytale”.  I’m not 100% sure if Sam captured the point (he hasn’t gotten his grade back yet), but it’s definitely an interesting read.  I asked him if I could share it here and he was happy to oblige.  While I find the story a bit odd and somewhat disturbing, I can appreciate that this is not an area he’s particularly strong in and he gave it his best effort.  So without further ado…enjoy!

The change that broke his heart Continue reading

Today I was reminded of how precious the four gifts I’ve been given truly are.  I was reminded of so much more than just the joys they bring everyday but the eternal blessing they are to me and the amazing responsibility I have to cherish them.  There are so many ways I could go with this post…but I’m going to try and remain on track.

Sam turned 9!  Where did the years go…I have one more year to enjoy single digits and then we hit the big 1-0.  Am I really old enough to have a child this age.  Sometimes my body says, “yup, you’re definitely old enough”:)  I know, I’m still a baby to some of you but when you’ve given birth four times there are parts that don’t work as well, don’t look the same, and just generally speaking the body starts to change.  My mind says I’m still so young…I just graduated, I just got married, I just started this family!  It could go on but the truth is I have a 9 year old!

When I see the beautiful boy that God has given me I’m astounded at the intricacy of our Creator’s mind.  I see a little boy, who is becoming a young man…I see a smile, a frown, a tear, a smirk and I know that there are so many faucets of this person.  Some I know all too well and others that seem to escape my notice.  I hear him growling in frustration at his homework, I see him gently lift his baby sister into his lap after dinner and snuggle her, I discuss with him the benefit of owning a “slap-chop” and how if I call in the next twenty minutes I’ll also get a second one and a free grater and in all those moments I experience a myriad of emotions at how the baby I held such a short time ago has become such a beautiful person.  He’s far from perfect, he gets angry, he yells, he stomps, he slams doors but when I reflect in quieter moments I know that isn’t what defines him.  He’s human, just like me!  Instead I see that he is a sensitive, loving, kind little boy who belongs to me!  I am the one who has been blessed with his presence.  He’s a gift to ME…a special treasure that should be valued and proudly displayed.

I hope that in the next 9 years I can hold on and let go, that I can guide him and befriend him, that I can love him and like him.  Every year will bring a new challenge, a new realization of who he is but I know I can trust one thing…that the Creator of Heaven and Earth already has a purpose and knowledge of where he is leading this treasure of a child and what role I will play in that!

Happy Birthday Sam.  You are a gift and my prayer is that you NEVER forget that.

For those of you with kids I can imagine that you’ve all made the effort to go out on a “date” with your child from time to time. Although the younger they are the less enjoyable it can tend to be since it usually turns out like most outings where you spend the entire time parenting rather than just being together but as I discovered last night, as my children grow the experience of “dating” them can be an amazing bonding experience never mind preparing them for relationships in their future and, more importantly, cementing the bond between parent and child for years to come.

Last night Sam and I agreed to go out to look for a Halloween costume for him and then continue on with a date night. I was a little tired but really wanting to accomplish this time together since it’s only a few more weeks before baby arrives. I suggested to Sam we head to Winner’s (since that’s where my mom got Lanae’s adorable ladybug outfit) and then we go to a place where James and I, and many of my girlfriends and I, spend very productive evenings, AFTERTHOUGHTS!!! He proceeded to inform me that he just wanted ice cream with smarties in it, ie, McDonald’s McFlurry. I was not about to spend the evening “dating” in McDonald’s so I tried to entice him with tales of huge pieces of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, hot chocolate with whipcream, etc. He didn’t really seem that excited but I think he sensed my lack of enthusiasm for McDonald’s (could be my outright refusal to take him there but I’m not sure…). Anyway, we got to Winner’s didn’t find what we wanted and headed to Afterthoughts. He kept asking how long until we get there, is that the place mom, etc. All the questions that kids normally ask but today I was determined not to lose my patience and just enjoy the fact that he wanted to be there with me and even held my hand as we went from place to place. When we got there we decided on sharing a HUGE piece of Cookies ‘n’ cream cake and each had a hot chocolate. We found a table and dug in. For those of you who know Afterthoughts you know how big the pieces are so we obviously didn’t finish it (much to James’ enjoyment, since he got the leftovers) but we had fun talking and being silly. There were moments of course that I had to be “mom”. When he tried to eat the cake without his fork I very firmly informed him you can’t do that on a date! I realized it wasn’t so horrible what he was trying to eat with his face in the cake but it was desperately embarrassing for me! In the big scheme of things is it really that big a deal and then I understood that part of this “dating” thing is teaching my sons how to act on a date and what ladies enjoy when they are out. Really what I’m accomplishing here is a service to my future daughter-in-law as I help my sons understand the need for chivalry, class, kindness, and all those things that a woman needs so desperately to feel special and unique to her spouse.

Of course the evening wouldn’t have been complete without a few moments of reminiscing on my part about how my son has grown from a tiny infant to a seven year old boy. He no longer has the tiny fingers and toes and little button nose, now he has long spindly arms and dimples on his face that appear whenever he smiles. I can’t say I miss him being a baby but I do realize that he’s growing up so fast and I really need to take every opportunity to enjoy who he is at each stage.

The evening ended pleasantly, with a stop at Walmart and the purchase of a Darth Vadar cloak, mask and light saber, and then off to bed where he fell asleep quite willingly with a smile on his face. All I can say is thank you Lord for blessing me with this child who so often has me pulling my hair out but every once in awhile there are beautiful moments which I will forever cherish and look back on with the knowledge that my son is “mine” only for a short time so I am going to choose to give him as much of myself now as I possibly can!