Life has been a little bit crazy around here lately. You know that thing where you expect your kids to be like you, and then they’re not? Well, I hate leaving things until the last minute – but my kids… Let me tell you a tale.
In November last year, my son Alex finished high school (in Australia, the school year aligns with the calendar year). This year, he is doing a gap year program called Year 13 run by Anglican Youthworks. It’s a fantastic program for young adults, where they do 2 days a week of theological study and 2 days a week working in their local church, alongside some part time work for most of them too. Alex is absolutely loving the program, and we’re so thankful he had this opportunity to grow in maturity and gain some great experience before he goes to university next year.
A major component of the program is a month-long mission trip to Fiji. Now, we’ve known this mission trip was a part of the program since Alex first considered doing Year 13. Since the term started, he’s been getting information packs about what he needed to get ready: organising a passport; getting supplies like mosquito nets, suitable clothing and footwear, medical supplies, toiletries, gifts for their homestay families, and local currency; getting immunisation shots; and doing fundraising.
Well, the team flew out on Thursday. And despite knowing well in advance everything that needed to be done, we spent the week and a half leading up to Thursday in a mad scramble to get everything together. Thankfully, he already had his passport! Thursday was spent planning the games for his fundraiser on Saturday night. Friday and Saturday we bought and cooked food for the fundraiser. Friday, Saturday and Monday were spent shopping for supplies. Monday he got his vaccinations. Tuesday night he started packing. Fiji dollars were picked up from the bank by Dad on Wednesday. Alex was out all day Wednesday, so packing was finalised Thursday morning before leaving for the airport. Phew!
I wonder how many of you can sympathise with this exhausted Mum, who tried really hard not to nag, and to step back and let her newly-minted adult son organise himself? Who tossed and turned every night thinking about all the details that needed sorting? Who loves that her son is so easy-going, but also finds it enormously stressful when things are left until the last minute? Who wishes he could be a bit more organised, but knows he has to find his own way and learn his own lessons? And who is incredibly proud of the fine young man he is becoming, and the great choices he is making, but also apprehensive about him spreading his wings? (And who is already missing him terribly?)
Our job as parents is not to create clones of ourselves, but to support our kids to grow into the adults that they were meant to be. They’ll never stop being our babies, but they do need to become independent. Some of my jobs as a parent are over now – but some will never be. I will always be the memory-keeper for our family – snapping photos, making photobooks, recording the stories. I can’t be there with him in Fiji, or at uni, or in the next stage of wherever life takes him. But I will keep gathering the photos and the stories, and making lasting records of them, so that my family will always be able to look back at our story, know where they’ve come from, and know how much they are loved. And I hope to pass on the memory-keeping bug to my kids too!
Here’s a page I made about the fantastically fun night we had for the fundraiser. I used #p2PDottedGridBP, Just Sayin Page Pak by Cottage Arts, and Zoorific Scrap Kit by Designs by Laura Burger. Fonts: CurlzMT, Eras Bold ITC.