Paradigm shift in parenting

This weekend, my son journeyed out on his first away from the family trip.  He has been working hard all summer at the local Boys and Girls Club as a leader in training. It began last spring with a class on goal setting and how a job would work and finishes this weekend with a trip to the beach and Knott’s Berry Farm.  I am so excited for him. As I write, I pray that he has the time of his life to date.

A little background on my parenting…my kids have never really been away from me or each other for longer than a day. They only do an occasional sleep over at grandma’s or maybe their cousins come to our house for the night. We pretty much stick together, the three of us, it’s really how I prefer it and up to now, that’s been fine. The other thing is that I was a youth minister. I would arrange and attend these types of trips with kids. I still believe it’s some of the best ministry you can do with kids.  I would get to spend bulk time with them in a “non-ministry” setting. Just hanging out with kids is one of the best things youth ministers do. I know that this trip will be life changing in many ways for my boy.  Independence, fun, and trusting his own choices and decisions are his for the taking!

This April marked the end of our fifth year without my husband. We began our sixth and with that sixth year we mark the beginning of the year that the scale tips one more year of my oldest being parented by me alone than by us together. It’s a sad shift for me really. He will be parented longer by me alone now than by Dave and I together. For my little boy, this has always been true.  His dad didn’t live to see his first birthday. He only really knows the world this way.  For Sam, he knows, he misses, he is different than the sweet boy that had two parents (he’s still very sweet, but it’s different). That’s not the only shift though.  This trip marks something for me that has been building for a year or so.  It is a paradigm shift. Sam’s world is changing, growing and his life experiences are happening more and more without me at his side.  Every parent goes through this. It’s the time where your kid spends most his time doing his own thing.  My son now builds many of his experiences on his own. It is a beautiful thing. It is an amazing thing.  It is what I parent toward…an independent, loving child. It is also very hard for me to not be with him.

When I think of him only having me to parent him I worry if I’ve done ok.  I know two things…it’s just not the same without my husband and I know my husband knew I could handle it and we would be ok. It’s just my doubts that float through my head.  It’s my fear of lacking that my kids will be somehow less because I was their sole parent.  Everyday, I get up to face a life that is so different than I thought it would be. Single parent, let alone sole parent, is not what I had planned. Can I do it? Sure, definitely. I even think I will do it well, but there is still that ache, that memory of how it was that eats me up inside.

So as my boy enjoys his time in California, I wait with his brother to hear his story.  I so miss his dad being able to share this with us. I miss the smack on the back and the big hug Dave would give him to show him how proud he is of him.  I miss having his dad here with me to ease my stress as my baby is away from home.  I guess the bottom line is that I still miss my husband, my co-parent, my friend, my love being here with us to live our lives and hear our stories. That will never change.  We will handle it, but it will still be there in every new journey we take…together or apart.

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