Believe it or not, it’s finals week for Courtney. In many ways it seems as if we were just delivering her back to campus for her sophomore year, and now it’s just about over. Lightening speed for me – the one who did not attend all those classes, endure endless lectures and labs, as well as grueling assignments, papers and exams.
I am feeling blessed beyond expectation because she is coming home once again for the summer. We had thought it likely that she would be elsewhere for an internship, but she received an internship, within her field, right here in our town. I get the opportunity to spend another summer with my daughter!! It’s amazing how happy this makes me.
This parenting thing is funny ~ it’s ever changing. Obviously we are in transition in our parenting of her. We do not now, nor will we next week, parent her in the same manner in which we parent Zach (17) or Erin (14). But we do, and will, still parent her during this phase.
What does that look like now? Not a rhetorical question. I’m really wondering. She will be twenty next month. She is smarter than me to be sure (seriously, she’s studying to be a Biological Engineer, I failed 10th grade math). She knows more than me in several arenas, and certainly is more “relevant” than me when it comes to current culture.
One thing I do have is more wisdom gained from more life experience. But this will only mean something if we continue to grow our more adult, parent-child relationship. I believe it is within the continued & growing relationship where opportunities to impart some of that life wisdom can take place.
I wrote here about her coming home for the summer last year and what I did to prepare. And now I am keenly aware that she has had the better part of yet another year to live “independently” (I put it like that because the truth is we mostly fund this independence). The point that matters is that she has been making her own decisions about daily life – without a parent holding her accountable or telling her to get more sleep. Which is part of the growing up process – which is good and keeps her on track to actually grow up and be an adult that contributes to society. Remember, I am not raising kids, I’m raising future adults. I believe she is exactly on track…and the truth is, I’ve not been down this stretch of track before.
It’s constantly new terrain with our oldest children. Poor them…and quite honestly, poor us. So what I will do in these next few days before she comes home is pick up my copy of “You’re Wearing That?” by Deborah Tannen. I will go straight to Chapter 9 Blending Intimacy and Independence: New Ways of Talking. I will look for some of that wisdom and life experience that I don’t yet have. I will seek out women whose core and family values are similar to mine and I will ask them to meet me for coffee. I will wash her sheets, tuck a welcome home note under her pillow, brace myself for the piles of stuff that will cover my living room for days, draw close to her and give her room. I will be overjoyed to simply look at her across the room. I will be happy for this time with my oldest child, who sits perched on the edge of the nest, trying her wings.
Last year Courtney and I wrote a five part series called Home for the Summer – you can read that here.