I am a week away from celebrating my 25th year of marriage. It was not that long ago I wrote about celebrating my 20th year married to the same woman! here
Time has flown. And so has the time flown with our sons. Next year, I have plenty to write about. We have a 21st, 18th and 50th to celebrate in our family. I may not want to reflect on my 50th just yet.
Belinda and I often joke that sometimes the only way we communicate is through group emails/chats or through social media. This gives the whole world a chance to enjoy the “Russell and Belinda show”. Now, we are communicating through an article- she sent me this via email halfway through a tough week (well, tough month to be honest) at work and at home.
We do take this parenting gig seriously and feel we are being deliberate and planned with our choices and decisions; however, we often literally just take each day as it comes, live from pay packet to pay packet, make up meals based on how many leftovers we have accumulated and do feel we are making this up as we go.
Parents are to work together to make it work. We have enough adopted sons and daughters to keep ourselves busy outside of the home, but we have always been determined to get our home life sorted first; but now, each of us have something to let go.
Here are our reflections.
How do you let your kids go? A father’s heart
I want to get this Dad stuff right. The class of 2019 at my current school got me a school jersey with “Dad” on the back. I take this role seriously but having that jersey in my hand broke me a bit.
How do I be the role model many students are looking for if I can’t get it right at home? I sometimes give up on one or the other, sometimes I put more emphasis on one than the other, sometimes I just don’t try at either.
I’ve never been a Dad to 3 sons before. It starts to feel like it is slipping away from me at times. Other times, I just nail it. I give advice readily and freely at work, but the advice I give my sons always has an extra edge to it. If the advice I give my own sons works, I am hoping for a Father of the Year nomination. If it doesn’t work, then what are the ramifications? Their relationships with their family, mates and girlfriends could potentially fail. I feel the weight of that.
How much of this is on me?
How much of this is on them?
I will continue on the journey with them. I just want to get it right, knowing full well, I often get it so wrong.
And like the old “Footprints” poem, I will walk beside them, pick them up and allow God to pick them up as well. I love the poem, but sometimes I feel I am dragging them through the sand. Maybe God has a snatch strap firmly attached to me, towing me out of the bog I constantly get myself into as well.
I have to let my sons go. I may have to allow them to get bogged first. I may have to “save myself” before I “save” them. Their triumphs will be their triumphs and however much I don’t want it to happen, their failures and losses need to be theirs as well.
How do you let your kids go? A mother’s heart
It’s funny how people always say to enjoy your kids because they grow up in the blink of an eye. It is actually true! You blink and your cute little toddler has grown into a young adult.
Where did that time go?
Recently I have come to the realisation that in parenting, there is always a new season. There is never an end to the season, it just changes. I find myself in this new season of letting go and letting my kids be adults, and it is harder than I thought.
It brings with it doubts, questions, reflection, frustrations, fears and worries. There are also moments of pride, joy and relief too; don’t get me wrong – it’s not all bad!
For me, it has been a time of firstly realising that this is a real thing, this letting go thing, as well as coming to the understanding that as a parent, I have to process this season, particularly going through it the first time. I am really hoping it is easier the second and third time round and I’ll have it all sorted! (watch this space)
So far it has left me questioning: have a done a good enough job of parenting? Will they be able to make wise decisions? How will they know how to budget well?
Then there is part of the journey that involves the giving of advice and advice not being taken. How do you process that? And not take it personally? And not want to yell at them that they are doing it wrong? Or get angry when they do something stupid? It is a little tricky and I think it is mostly because I have to think about answers to these questions and my head hurts doing it. It is just as much about me as it is about my kid.
It comes down to relationship – my relationship with my husband and how we help each other through this; my relationship with my kid and whether we are able to openly communicate; and most importantly, my relationship with God who, in all reality, has been in my shoes and knows best.
Through all this, I keep thinking about how my Father in Heaven feels about me, about His creation, and how He feels releasing me to make my way through life. I wonder how He processes seeing His creation not taking His advice, doing wrong and stupid things.
Ultimately, He created us with the ability to make choices, but with this came the risk and a chance that we would not make good choices. John Dickson calls it a “gutsy” kind of love.
One thing I know for sure in all of this: God promises peace unsurpassable, love unconditional and grace undeserved.
So, how now should we parent?
It’s a new phase of parenting and I have not coped too well. Our “discussions” in our family have not always ended well and the balance is not quite struck, but we are getting there.
We have done it together, God has guided us through whether we have acknowledged Him or not.
2021 will be worth celebrating whatever happens.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html