Life is full of transitions. For our family, this seems to be a season of transitions – and I am sure we are not alone. The good news is that our transitions are exciting, they are good transitions, the type you want to happen – but, sometimes it seems that they are the most difficult ones to deal with.
All three of our children are experiencing concurrent transitions…the oldest, Michael, our 21 year old, is exploring graduate school options as he plans to enter his senior year. As we discussed options over the last few weeks during his abbreviated summer recess, I was impressed with the young man he was becoming and that his mother and I always knew he would be – a confident, well-spoken and focused individual who is on the brink of beginning a new phase in his life. As he left today to head off to his summer job in one of his favorite places – Montreat, North Carolina – it struck me that he is at that point in his life where we might only get to see him for short visits. That’s certainly one of the more “difficult” transitions I mentioned above.
As I digested that, I thought of our 18 year old who is preparing to enter college in a few months. For those of you who know Thomas, you know that he is a passionate, dynamic, and well rounded young man. He has an amazing array of interests and he never has a problem with trying something new – unless it involves mashed potatoes or fish. He seems ready to transition to the next chapter in his life, but things will be drastically different in our house once he moves to his first dorm room. Just like when Michael moved out three years ago, it will be a transition and will take some time to address the new “normal” in our home.
We will miss Thomas and his sense of humor, his wit and his personality, which fills any room that he enters. But, just as we absorb Thomas’ move, our family will be dealing with one more transition when Catherine, our youngest, enters high school. The last few years have been a tremendous period of growth for her as we have watched our little girl blossom into a self-assured, poised, and determined young lady. She is one of the most talented people I know and I cannot wait to see what the next few years have in store for her.
As I thought about these transitions, my mind wandered to duplo towers; lego cities; city park visits; lacrosse, soccer, basketball, football, baseball, and volleyball games; fencing and wrestling competitions; plays, piano recitals, choir concerts, band performances, and orchestra concerts; and all of the Scouting activities. And of course, “baby cow” (an inside reference).
Reflecting on these transitions, and the ones that I know are on the horizon, helped me realize the unequivocal blessings that is each one of these amazing people that God has entrusted to me and my wife. I realize that my job as a parent is to help shepherd and guide, to teach and support, and to love my children no matter what. I also know that each one of them was brought into our lives for a reason. As cliché as it sounds, over the years, I think they taught me more than I taught them. They have taught me how to be a father, how to love unconditionally, how to step outside my comfort zone, enjoy a simply conversation, and so much more.
The lyrics from “For Good” from Wicked came to mind – “…we are led to those who help us most to grow…but I know I’m who I am today because I [know them…]. I do believe I have been changed for the better.”
So, in the midst of reflecting on the transitions we are undergoing or about to undergo, I am reminded of the blessings that each transition brings. I am not sure that the transitions will get easier to deal with over time, but I know that with each transition associated with these three wonderful people, I have been changed for the better.