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The Season of Parenthood: It'll never be "over"

So today I was helping my oldest finalize his housing plans for college.

My middle son is trying to learn how to drive. (And I’m trying to learn how not to instill therapy in his future.)

My youngest just finished his high school course plan for the next four years.

Katie and I are swiftly rounding the bend to becoming empty nesters. There is a new season of parenthood in clear sight.

These are the years I have planned for!!  I have been waiting for my boys to be teenagers forever, it feels like.  I was so excited for the day where I didn’t have to cut someone else’s food, blow someone else’s nose, or wipe someone else’s butt!  I could have a REAL conversation with them, know what they meant, and respond.

Truth?  Even with teens, that still doesn’t happen on some days…but it’s better than playing twenty questions while the kid is screaming like a hyena in a blender.  “What do you want, baby?  Water?  Cracker?  Binky?  Barney?”    **please, God, if you ever loved me – not Barney!**

Here’s some more unadulterated honesty.  From the second Katie and I married, I also started planning our retirement.  (Unfortunately, not financially….more like ‘dreaming’ than planning.)  So after five years of marriage, when we found ourselves unexpectedly pregnant (all our babies were birth control babies – tell your children), I started thinking about how old I was going to be when they got out of the house.  Right then and there it was determined, “we have three years to finish this, sweetheart, because I want all these kids out of our house by the time I’m 50.”  Thankfully, because of the unreliability of birth control and the certain reliability of passion, we made it!

So while I’ve enjoyed this season of "teendom" with our kids, in the back of my mind I’ve always seen the end in sight.  The day when the kids are out of the house and we can stop being parents.  No more filling out permission slips.  No more driving lessons.  No more questions about how to graduate with honors.  We get to retire from parenting.

So tremendously naïve!!  You’ve heard the adage ‘it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings’?  In parenthood, SHE NEVER SINGS!!

I didn’t know that!!

I had a misconception about parenting.  Both of my parents passed away before I was 20.  So I truly didn’t understand that the parental role never really comes to an end.  It may no longer be day to day – but there are still loans to co-sign, future life partners to approve, grandbabies to watch….my parents were gone before I hit that stage of life.  I had no idea our job extended beyond the college years.

So on those days when you especially love your kids, take hope that they’ll always be your babies and you’ll always be Mom or Dad.  And on days that are ‘challenging’, you can rest in the assurance that your role will change as everyone gets older.

I’m reminded of these Bible verses…maybe they’ll help you, too – no matter what season of life everyone’s in….

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  

Ecclesiastes 3.1,11

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Showing 2 comments
  • Ana Bedicks

    Yes, Darren! Parenting is an endless job! In Brazil kids do not go to College outside their hometown. So my 3 kids were still living with us while they were in College. But, believe me, they were actually not with us during those times. They were grown up kids anyway! And I do believe that when our kids can grow up in the direction to be an adult it is because we’ve done well the first part of our parenting! So, good job Darren and Katie!

  • Jay Higham

    Great words of reminder and encouragement. Having served for years as a youth pastor, I couldn’t wait for my kids to be old enough to have the conversations that I used to have with other teens with my teens. Now I have a 16 year old, a new 15 year old, and a 12 year old that will cross that all important bridge of adolesence in just a few months. My 16 year old is learning to drive and reminds us frequently that it’s only a few more years and he’ll be out the door to college. I wrote about my thoughts and feelings in two posts; the first called, Sixteen Candles, and the second called, I Can’t Believe I Brought One of These Home.

    No matter what you go through with your kids; the good, the bad, and the ugly, 18 years is never enough. But for as sad as it is to watch those years pass, the reminder that our job as parents never ends is great. Sure what we do as parents might change, but the fact that we will always BE parents is fun to know.

    My prayers are with you and Katie, as you experience the coming days of college drop off and new life stages. Take each one of them as a new adventure; a blessing to you from our Father in heaven, and rejoice in the ways He makes us to be more and more liek Him!

    – jay

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