As our kids grow up, they still need us, but not in the same way that we’ve experienced before. Summertime used to mean loading up the minivan with as much kid stuff as we could cram behind the back seats and head off for the mountains or the beach. Now, Mrs. C and I wait by the phone to hear from them as they trot all over the country without us. Our one "trip" together this summer was to travel to Minnesota to watch G graduate from college. That was cool, but definitely a milestone for our family. It marked a passage into an era we've not experience before as parents. There's clearly no turning back now.
Nat just returned from a week of sailing in the San Juan Islands and a week of camp before that; T-Bone is returning home soon from an amazing summer working with kids as a camp counselor in Colorado, and G is living life on the edge as a first-year teacher in rural Mississippi. Each of them has experienced their own huge learning curve this summer, which could only be found by striking a little farther out on their own, exercising a little independence, and encountering some audacious challenges without Mom or Dad around to help them much.
This summer Mrs. C and I have been getting occasional phone calls and text messages from our offspring while they’ve been off having their most excellent adventures. They’re sharing all the highlights, and talking openly about the dilemmas they’re working on. These conversations are so gratifying; we are hearing them describe things with such depth and insight. Still, they know they don't have it all figured out all the time. They’re good at not asking us for resources or advice, but when we offer a little of each, they actually seem to be grateful. Maybe they're just really good at getting us to pay them to pretend like they're listening to us. Either way, it's a mutually happy arrangement.
Rather than mourn the passing of those precious minivan years that are now behind us, I’m learning more than ever to relish what we have right now, this moment. We are watching three amazing people emerge from our home, brimming with promise, and actively making an impact in the world.
Being their dad is cool.