Today comes a day that I’ve been expecting with quiet reservation. Today my youngest goes off to boarding school. He was so proud and happy when he got in, as were we all. But the price is his leaving home a few years earlier than originally scheduled.
He’s such a great young man, smart, and courageous. I’ve so enjoyed the time we’ve had together, watching him grow from a little boy, to this tall man with a deep, dramatic voice.
I’m already missing him.
Maybe reluctant isn’t the right word. I have a wonderful spouse and beautiful children. Even my boys are pretty. And they are all very talented. But two of them have signs of mental illness. After a particular hard week, I feel like the reluctant winner of a rich lottery of some sort.
I’m going to say right now that God’s been too good to me to regret having a family and children now. There’s no turning back, and I’ve already learned some valuable lessons. For one thing, mental illness needs to be treated like any other illness.
If someone catches the flu, we don’t judge them. We don’t point our fingers and chastise them for intentionally behaving in a flu-like manner. No, we hold them blameless, and treat that illness with love, compassion, and medicine. So should it be with mental illness. It’s not their fault.
Still it isn’t easy. Flu doesn’t insult you and curse you to your face.
As a parent, I like to imagine that I’m the first stage of a Saturn V rocket. Now I’m at max thrust, fuel more than half gone, pushing my payload ever upward. Any minute now, that 2nd stage will light up and I’ll fall to the ocean, a job well done. I only hope, as I fall away, to see that 3rd stage light up the sky.
Every parent knows it’s going to happen someday. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less of course. When I heard that my eldest daughter had decided to spend Christmas away from home, all of the air just went out of my balloons. I’m still feeling deflated, but I guess it’s just an unavoidable part of letting go. We’ve spent nearly two decades preparing her for this, so I guess we should be proud in a way. Still, the Christmas lights will be a little dimmer this year.
It suddenly occurred to me this morning that it is totally absurd for me to be parenting someone else while having so many unresolved issues of my own. Nevertheless, I suspect that is the situation with most parents… No wonder the birthrate is dropping more technologically advanced parts of the world.
Oh well, call me Captain Obvious.