No Longer a Teen!
My beautiful sweet Emily is 20 years young today!
There are so many memories and hopes and tears and joy in raising this unique and special gift from God. I often wonder if I did fail to recognize and respect her unique dreams and talents, because I was so focused on the strenuous work of guiding her successfully into adulthood and so worried that I was failing in my role as parent.
It was much easier to see God’s presence in her when she was little as she sang and drew and made friends so easily. As she got older it is not that I couldn’t see God, but it seemed like so much more was at stake and there were more dangers and so much more counted toward adulthood than ever before. I was more focused on the overwhelming task of steering her in the right direction, keeping her busy enough to stay out of trouble, praying over her choices and academic pursuits, and encouraging her social choices, because what a person is really like is shown by the kinds of friends they choose. And all this was with the added pressure of feeling I was being watched by one too many parents whose children I have had the awesome responsibility to help shape. All that is not to say that God was not present only that I often leaned into him only to wonder if I was leaning enough!
It sounds as if I did all this by myself and that simply is not true. While Jim was a very active father and he loved parenting both of our kids, he is no longer actively parenting on this planet. His influence and values are still very much a part of the raising of our kids, but I miss his daily level-headed wisdom and insight. He was such a good student of our daughter; listening to her and hearing her heart.
Our culture has such a narrow definition of success for our children; it seems to be all about grades, ambition, skills, and appearance. I know that these are all part of what is needed for a full life as an adult and Emily definitely fits the world’s definition of success. She is smart, talented, beautiful, caring and has a wild but harmonious sense of color; yet there are so many more qualities and ingredients necessary. These are actually the ones I often hope I have helped her with but wonder about since they are so hard to assess. I am referring to her resiliency, creative problem solving, compassion, faith and godliness, confidence and self-respect, to name a few. There are more things to learn, but my main job was to make sure she learned to listen to God so she would know when He spoke to her and willingly obey. Now my job is to get out of the way so He can be heard!