By nature, I am not a weepy person, which is odd given the fact that my background and roots, deep, deep roots are in theatre. Now, I didn’t say I wasn’t dramatic or “extra” at times, but in real everyday life I don’t cry a lot.
Until. Until a seventeen year old turned eighteen. Until a high school Junior became a high school Senior. Until a high school Senior experienced a lot of “First-Last” days. Even then, even through Senior Year 2018 the emotional outbursts were few and far between.
Graduation day came and went with out tears. In fact, sitting in that arena, watching over 700 kids turn their tassels and throw their caps in the air, there were no tears. There was a deep, unexplainable sense of peace that flooded over me. A settling that in those two minutes, that it took for him to be declared a high school graduate, I KNEW that he was ready for the next chapter. It’s surreal to watch the end and beginning of a chapter in someone’s life happen right before your eyes, it did, and I didn’t cry.
Of course this season has been filled with transition as well. And in labor, when you hit transition, that’s usually when ALL the words in the whole world come out of your mouth, or maybe that was just me. Anyways, transition hurts, it is uncomfortable, and it can feel like it lasts forever.
The transition of going from parents to coaches has been hard. I know for him transition of going from high schooler to ALMOST college student has been weird and awkward. I want to tell you that we have navigated these waters flawlessly, but we haven’t. At times I have felt like we are re-enacting the scene in the Princess Bride when Buttercup jumps off the boat and finds herself surrounded by the eels, except in this version there is no Andre the Giant to rescue us, instead we just hear “Inconceivable” said over and over again.
I know we are not the first, nor will we be the last parents to experience this, and this will not be our last time to walk through this transition since there are three more in line behind him. We’ve struggled to balance the scales with freedom and instruction. Some days we have wondered how in the world he will survive on his own, while other days we think there is only room for TWO adults in this house. I catch glimpses of a grown man and a child all rolled into one. Some days we see absolute maturity and other days we see him overwhelmed with the idea of the future and looking to us to help answer questions of uncertainty. What do we do? What things do we help with and what things do we let him figure out on his own? Have we chosen wisely in those moments? Have we instructed correctly, are we holding loosely enough and stewarding well or does he feel like he’s been thrown into the world with no safety net? Is the safety net too much, or not enough? All the questions, all the thoughts that tumble through your head when walking this out, and trying to remember that we are not perfect parents but we have a perfect Father and where we fall short, we have to trust that HE will pick up our slack.
But back to the no tears UNTIL. I haven’t cried a lot UNTIL. Until this week, this last full week of having all the kids home at the same time.
At first I really tried to choke back the tears or tell myself it was silly to shed them, but I couldn’t stop them. They have flowed freely from eyes at the most inconvenient times. While grocery shopping they slid down my cheeks as I picked out produce for a much requested favorite meal. A phone call with a friend to see how she was doing and when she asked me that same question I could hardly answer. Running the trails in the early morning and his EP shuffles through my play list. Writing this blog. It’s all the little moments that creep up and blindside me. I told my girlfriend the other day that my tears aren’t tears of fear or anguish or grief, and I wish that they wouldn’t happen because I don’t want Chase to think he has to stay so I’m not sad. But I am sad and I’m going to acknowledge that sadness because suppressing it will only make it worse.
Hear me parents. When our kids step into the world and move into the next phase of their life whether it’s preschool or graduate school I give you permission to cry. They are our heart, our literal breathing heart. There will be no one that can love them the SAME as we do. We will go to hell and back for them. So this week, I’m going to let the tears flow whenever and wherever they choose. I’m going to allow Chase to see them, because they are not a manipulation tactic to get him to stay (because we really do want him to go to school and experience all God has in store for him), but because he needs to KNOW that he will be missed. That we will be counting down the days to Thanksgiving and Christmas break, that we will go to bed every night and wake up every morning thinking about him. He needs to see the tears that are a mixture of joy and sadness because in tears those two emotions CAN co-exist.
As we navigate these next few days, I give myself permission for all the feels, all the emotions and when we board the plane to fly home without the one who made us parents first, I will allow the tears of joy, pride and sadness to slide down my cheeks as the Philadelphia skyline fades.