Blog posts about parenting typically discuss issues for infants, toddlers, and the pre-school years. Whether to breast feed, toilet train at 18 months or join established play groups are issues young parents discuss at length. Recent posts discussed sleep-training and whether there is merit to the family bed or use of the crib lovingly purchased by doting grandparents. There are several blogs that discuss the value of organized sports for adolescents or the rising problem of bullying in elementary schools. These are dilemmas for all parents in the early years. I, however, am long past those discussions, my children have reached their late teen years and early adult status, they sleep through the night, prepare their own meals and have mastered group activities. No longer are my issues easily resolved with a simple one step solution or a support group. We are now into the college years, the newly wed years, the stages of parenting when less is more and it’s time to let them fly.
The wings are strong, their sense of direction is keen, and yet, my heart is high in my throat as my fledglings take flight. Decisions made have more serious consequences now. The college of choice determines future career opportunities, the new job is more than a funding source for video games and nights out on the town. The discussions revolve around mortgage payments vs. rent, in-laws and extended families, holiday sharing and long-term career goals. There are college applications to complete, essays to write and maintenance of the GPA. My birds are flying, stretching their wings yet still eager to return to the nest for additional flight training.
I stand at the observation deck and watch them flutter into their own flight patterns. I watch them struggle through prioritizing medical appointments, school work and friends’ party invitations. Car payment or family visit, the gym or the paper due in two days, they sort through each question now as carefully as I weighed the merits of family reunion or soccer, ballet lessons or group project. I know they are prepared to make choices, I taught them well. I find I am the one at a loss, the observer not the decision maker with the stakes so much higher today than when they were small. I am a source of advice, not the risk taker these days. I am asked for my editorial opinion, yet don’t wield the editing pencil. I am on the sideline, watching their flight, still cheering madly and hoping that all those decisions made in the early years will illuminate their path, put air under those wings and lift them to the next tree.
Parenting decisions grow in direct proportion with the child. Although I wouldn’t trade a moment of their growth, those days of bed vs crib, play dates vs team sports don’t seem all that bad in retrospect. I do have to admit, I’m looking forward to the grandparenting days. I can observe them with wings wide-spread, soaring into full flight from their own nests while I watch the hatchlings among the branches. The lessons of parenting 3.7 complete with honors.