I wrote the following post a couple of months ago before I launched this blog.
I said goodbye to our oldest son yesterday. I helped him move into the junior college on-campus housing while he completes a program in machining technology. The college is in a smaller Texas town about 5 hours south of where we live. That’s the thing about Texas, you can drive for several hours and not cross any state borders.
Meeting his new roommate brought back memories of my first roommate at Texas A&M, Randy. It is the start of a time of compromise, adjustments and sometimes frustration. Randy and I did not become best of friends, but we lived together with minimal friction or argument. While I studied, Randy usually read a Dune book. I think that he managed to read all of the Dune books, which may have been why he was placed on scholastic probation, and shortly thereafter moved back to his hometown.
We got Ben settled into his new apartment-style dorm, then stocked up his kitchen with a trip to the local Walmart. Ah, the simply pleasures of being a student: Wolf brand chili, ramen noodles, mac and cheese, chips, and frozen diners— that about sums up the contents of his basket at the end of our shopping trip. We celebrated the successful move-in with a tasty meal at a local Bar B Q restaurant.
Growing up is good. Maturing is good. The process of becoming independent is healthy. I am so proud of him as he opens this new chapter in his life. It takes courage to start a new learning adventure that is located 5 hours from home.
There were so many things that I wanted to say to him that day. There was a light rain falling when we said our goodbyes. I wanted to say so many things. To affirm him, encourage him, guide him.
I asked to pray for him. He graciously accepted. I started to pray, and was unprepared for the emotions that welled up within me. My voice clamped down to a whisper.
Childhood memories of our firstborn collided with my prayerful hopes for his future. I want so much for Ben. Not stuff, or power, or notoriety. I want him to fully develop into a man of character— a man who knows who he is and Whose he is — a man whose love for those around him is evident.
I had to stop and regain my composure before continuing to pray. Silence, deep breaths, then a few more words would spill out. The struggle to communicate eased with an amen. Ben I love you and am proud of you…
A rainy, tearful goodbye was followed by a long ride home. Memories of a boy, wearing a coon skin hat and perched high in a tree kept flooding into my mind. Only faint lines of that boy are now evident in my six foot tall, deep-voiced son. Memories fuel hopes that lead to prayer, and the pools well up again to cloud my vision.
As our kids get older I am struck with the realization that they, alone, hold the keys that will unlock their future. We cannot live or craft their lives for them. This is how it should be, even though I selfishly entertain thoughts of control from time to time. The time that we have with our children is a stewardship, a responsibility whose effects will ripple through generations. Raising children is about slowly letting go. It must be done wisely, and with care. Today is seems that this release is perhaps the most poignant when our fingertips last touch.