Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Family Time

Friends, I apologize for my long silence. At least it seems long to me. I’ve been hit with a combination of the “Christmas busys” and what has felt like far fewer brain cells. Everything I’ve thought about writing has seemed trite, and I truly want to avoid wasting your time and mine.

We were blessed with a nine-day visit from our DS and his wife. Although we all were sick for part of the time, we still managed to do everything we wanted to do and had lots of time for rest and reading, which is what DDIL really needed. It was a blessed, laid back time. But it was also busy. You know how it is when you have houseguests in a small house. Because we were all sick, I washed towels every day. And because we wanted all-together time, I cooked breakfast most mornings.

Breakfast, or perhaps I should say brunch, has become a tradition when they come home. We gather around the table about 11:00 and often sit there for hours. In the summer we eat on the patio and have been know to sit and talk until 4:00 in the afternoon—just in time to cook dinner.

These times are precious interludes for me. I’m usually a Type A personality, going, running, doing. I usually eat in the car or on the run. Even when DS was living at home, we usually had dinner together, but it wasn’t a four-hour affair. But because we home schooled, we had times throughout the day and week to talk. Often in the car driving to debate or other places. During those times, we developed a close relationship and the ability to talk about almost anything with one another. He learned to seek our advice, and we learned the best ways to give it so it would be heard.

When he went off to college, we would often spend an hour or more on the phone once or twice a week, just the three of us. He’d tell us all about what he was doing, thinking, feeling, and we’d share our lives with him. He’d often do this while walking around the campus—good exercise! In this way, we stayed close. Didn’t lose touch. And we were able to see him growing in his ability to make wise decisions and weather storms. We gradually let go, moving from being fairly directive in freshman year to just listening and sometimes reflecting or asking a question in senior year. The result is that he has continued talking to us, sharing his life. And his wife is learning to do the same.

Our task, of course, is to develop an adult relationship with them. As they move into adulthood, we can be their friends and their elders. Hopefully wise elders. It’s important to us that he no longer be our “boy,” but that he becomes a man, an adult, who is firmly grounded in his values, his faith, and his new family. A man who can make wise decisions; one who knows when to ask for help or input and when to do it on his own.

I’ve often said that parenting adult children is harder than parenting two’s or teens. It’s hard to make the shift from directive to reflective, but the rewards of doing it well are huge. I’m beginning to like this stage of life. We’re reaping the fruits of our labors.

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