Monday, July 30, 2007
In Only 9 Days...
In only 9 days, my youngest son Aaron will turn 18, and I'm going through a phase. I'm sure it's one of those transitions from one season of my life to another, but knowing what it is makes it none the easier to accept.
In only 9 days, he will suddenly be a man by some worldly standards, yet not quite "man" enough by others. He will no longer be a minor and will fall off my health insurance plan (unless he attends college full-time and I submit countless signed and notarized forms to my insurance company verifying I still provide his primary means of support). He will be able to sign a contract, buy cigarettes (he doesn't smoke), and vote. He will not be able to obtain a CDL (unless all OTR driving is done in the State of Tennessee), purchase firearms, work in a bar, or drink (thank goodness!), yet he can go to war and offer his life for this great nation of ours. Maybe I can still claim his as a dependent on my taxes.
Some distinctions are a little more subtle. He has undoubtedly been marking the days to freedom, that magical point in time when the imaginary bars of childhood fall away and adulthood presents itself with all its limitless possibilities. He'll be leaving home to start college in the fall. It's a good and natural parting, one for which we raise our children, one every parent might expect at such a juncture in their children's lives. But he'll be living with another family and a roommate, and they'll be replacing me, at least in the central arena of his life.
I've been through this before, so why is it so hard? My eldest son is almost 24; I've already survived his graduation, his marriage, and his moving away. It must be that "empty-nest" syndrome sneaking up on me again. It causes me to reflect, reminisce, and pull out old pictures.
18 years ago, Aaron was born on August 8, 1989. His brother David was 5, almost 6. What close brothers they would be, I thought. They would stick together like glue. (I didn't know much about sibling rivalry, little boys, or what a difference 6 years' in age could make at the time).
I only knew they were the joy and light of my life, precious and remarkable gifts from God! Raising them was not easy, as I was a single parent for most of their early-childhoods. But they made every day worthwhile, every sacrifice effortless, every joy more intense, every moment more dear, every milestone more memorable.
They had both been in "school" since the tender age of 6 weeks, the standard maternity leave at the time, as I recall. My heart was broken daily as I left them in the care of others: teachers, ministers, babysitters. It seemed they were always the first to arrive and the last to leave their temporary shelters, not because I was busy climbing some purposeless corporate ladder, but because I had to pay the bills. I think it was harder on me than on them, though, because David told me recently that he thought he had had a pretty good childhood. I cried a silent tear of thanks, for God had taken care of my deficiencies.
He had provided all that we needed, and what I saw as lack, my boys apparently never missed. We celebrated the special times, their accomplishments, their birthdays, friends, family, worship, and Christmas!
We traveled to Cincinnati one year with all of their gifts in the trunk of the car. They wondered how Santa had found them at Aunt Loraine's and Uncle Otis'. How delighted were there little eyes when they awoke to find the small tree in the window surrounded by brightly wrapped packages! Indeed, there was no shortage of presents that year; and more importantly, no shortage of love. They played in the snow (a wonderful oddity, since they were Florida boys), and Aaron played endless games of table top pool with Uncle Otis, until he wore him out (Otis, not Aaron). Even the dog got a bone!
They've grown together over the years, had their differences, their battles, and their victories, and surely they will face the future head-on. They will always be brothers and will be there for each other, regardless of where their paths may lead. They are headed down different roads, each with their own goals, dreams, and vision, and a good foundation. They have been raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, for they are His, loaned to me for a season at their birth.
It's been a few years now since I've had to consciously let go of David. Now I must make every effort to do the same with Aaron. As I committed David to the Lord, I commit Aaron also. God has a wonderful plan for his life, and I release him to fulfill it.
We'll make the transition together, although I think he'll run faster than I. He's been way ahead of me since we took that first step together almost 18 years ago. Well, I still have 9 days.
Yes, in only 9 days, Aaron will be 18. I suppose I'll survive this, too.
Have a blessed day!