I Can Let Go

I've been thinking today of moms whose kids have graduated high school this year and will be going off to college in the fall, just a few weeks away.  My daughter just graduated this year from our homeschool high school, but she is staying home. She'll be attending the local college and then transferring to a university in a year or two. My son, hopes to go away to college as soon as he's done with homeschool high school. And the reason I'm thinking of moms sending off their kids is because we just dropped Noah off for a two-week Recruit Training with the Sea Cadets. This is the longest he will be away from home.  It's only been three days and I miss him terribly. I think it's even harder for me because I cannot communicate with him. He cannot just pick up a phone and call.

A couple of years ago he and his sister went to a church retreat, which was a few days. But they were together and we could communicate with each other.  This time he has no electronics. So that means no texting, phone calls or emails. Parents can send emails. The emails get printed and passed out to the recruits at the end of the day. He cannot email us back, though. He can only write to us.  I packed him a mailing kit...addressed and stamped the envelopes so all he had to do was write the letter. We just received our first letter from him. He must've been too tired to write because the letter was quite short. But it was clear that these first two days were pretty rough. I know the first day there, the cadets were awakened at 4:45 am and went on to do physical fitness training immediately after waking up...then breakfast.  So I can imagine that by the end of the day, the only thing he wants to do is just sleep.

You may be wondering what possessed me to send my son to recruit training! Well, it wasn't my choice. It was his. He is 17 years old now and he's been looking forward to this for a long time. He knew how hard it was going to be, and still he wanted to go. He has a desire to join the service some day. It's not a direction that we have been taking him in, but it's a desire that has grown in his heart. So I think this is a very good opportunity for him to get a small taste of what it would be like. I think these two weeks may be life-changing for him. It will certainly be character-building and teach him self discipline.  I'm happy he's learning time management and to set goals and remain focused. I've been told by parents of recruits from previous year that their sons went as young boys and came back as responsible young adults.
These are all good lessons he's learning, of course.  But I cannot help but then think of the near future when he goes away to college. I'm not even half way into the two week period and I'm missing him. I cried reading his letter and I tear up talking to my daughter about where he is and what he may be doing. So I cannot even imagine when he goes away to college...or if/when my daughter goes away to college. I still have a year or two to worry about that, but I'm also aware that time passes oh so quickly.  It seems like just yesterday I was trying to decide what elementary homeschool curriculum to use. I cannot forget I still have my youngest daughter, and she's a long way away from making plans about moving.

When I start thinking of my kids leaving home and what I'll be missing with them, it is so easy to fall into depression or sadness. I can't let myself stay there for long.  I've found that it helps to remember that I've not just been raising children, but I've been raising adults.  This was the goal.  To raise adults who are productive citizens in society and live out God's plan for their lives. I change my focus from what I'm losing (the past) to what my kids are gaining (their future).  I meditate on their bright futures and my future with my husband and the time we'll have together, rather than the past.  The past is beautiful, but it is past. It had its purpose. I treasure those moments, but they are just beautiful memories now. Instead, I want to get excited for the opportunities, the new experiences, the new life lessons and adventures they will have, and that my husband and I will have, and that we can share with each other.  We'll be able to have some very cool talks. In the meantime, they are all still home and my work as a homeschool mom is not finished.  I can work on friendships with my children, my soon-to-be adult children, by being intentional with our conversations and time together. I need to start counseling more than disciplining, releasing them, allowing them to make mistakes, and letting them fly. It helps to know that God is in control and I can let go.

Independence Day...lessons learned

Yes, here it is, Independence Day, 4th of July, and I'm blogging.  I'm so excited to share our day with you so far. It's three in the afternoon and it feels like I should be getting ready for bed and like my day should be over. I'll tell you why.  I'm not a morning person. It's one of the many benefits of being homeschoolers, in my humble opinion, that we get to set our own schedules and work at our own pace. We don't normally start our school until late morning. I'm not saying we wake up that late, but by the time we have breakfast (my favorite meal of the day), have our quiet time and do some chores, it's late morning or early afternoon before we actually start with our 'academics'.  Well, yesterday we made plans to go to the beach today. But more than that, my daughter suggested we wake up at 5am so we could get to the beach before sunrise!  We all joked about who would change their mind come 5am or who wouldn't be able to get out of bed. My husband said it would be easy for him because he's up early every morning for work anyway. But I questioned whether he'd be tempted to sleep in since he had the day off.  Our teenage son, Noah, who likes to sleep in and doesn't like the beach, said there was no way he was getting up. And I told him even if we had to carry him to the car, he was going. All in good fun, though. I was the first one up, and as I went to wake Amber up, her alarm went off. She loves the beach and it was her idea to begin with, so I had no doubt she'd be ready in no time.

Our original plan was to be up at 5 and be at the beach by 6:30, in time to see the sunrise. We should've gotten up a lot earlier because we didn't get out of the house and on our way until 6:30! So we got to see the sunrise on the way to the beach. It took longer than we had expected to get the kayak strapped to the top of our van. And to be quite honest, our family tends to be late more often than I care to admit. Our son Noah is the only one who is punctual. He's the one who wants to be a Marine. I'd like to simply grab some towels and the umbrella and just head to the beach. But some in my family, who will remained unnamed (cough*cough* hubby), want to pack like we're going camping. It was a little stressful just getting things together and trying to get out of the house and on our way. When we all (I) decided to just surrender the idea of getting to the beach before sunrise, and be happy with just the fact that we were going to spend the day together, whether we saw the sunrise outside our house or on the way to the beach, 'we' were able to just live in the moment and have joy. Lesson learned.

So we finally made it to the beach and with arms full of coolers, towels, bags, umbrellas, chairs, and, of course, the kayak, we found a nice spot on an empty beach. Sunrise is definitely a good time to arrive at the beach on a busy holiday. The water was perfect for kayaking. Amber bought this kayak several months ago. She's my adventurous child. Today was the first time we all got to use it. And and best of all, Samantha got to use it!! Samantha, for those of you new to our blog, is our daughter with Down syndrome. My husband and Amber gave her a few tips on how to turn the kayak in the direction she wanted it to go. It didn't take but a couple of minutes before she was off on her own and loving it! I was a bit scared of drifting out to the middle of the ocean, but once I saw her doing it and having such a great time, I knew I had to try it too.  We each had our turn kayaking. Kayaking out on the ocean, especially when the water is so calm, with no waves, is so relaxing. Of course, I didn't go out too far. And knowing my husband would swim out to rescue me if I needed him, was nice too.

We really had a great time together. At one point I saw something floating in the ocean. It kind of looked like a ball.  Amber thought it was a coconut, though there are no coconut trees on the beach. So she swam out to see (sea).  Haha.  I had to put that pun in there.  Sorry.  Anyway, would you believe it was a whole watermelon?!  I cannot imagine how that got out there...maybe it fell in the water from one of the boats we saw out there. Maybe even a cruise ship. We had a good laugh about that one. We wondered if it would be good to eat, but we just left it at the beach when we packed up to go home. On our drive home we talked about the meaning of Independence Day. And it was actually Samantha who started the conversation by asking what the holiday means. She's always so curious and eager to learn. We each shared what rights we personally think are most important to us and what a blessing it is to have been born in America and enjoy the freedom that we have, especially the freedom of religion.

We made it to the beach by 7am and back home by 1:30, just in time for the our teens to have lunch, shower and head out to work for a few hours. And now that we're home Samantha is playing some matching vocabulary games. She's getting ready and excited for our American Girl book club, which starts next week. Although I'm ready to just call it a day, it's far from over. The Colombia vs Brasil soccer game is starting soon.  Have I mentioned how much our family loves 'futbol'?   My husband's and my parents are Colombian, so this is one game we CANNOT miss! And then tonight, of course, we'll be going out to see the fireworks. Our kids will be home from work by 7, just in time to go out and meet our older son and his wife and baby at the park for the fireworks show and some more fun. I'm so glad that even with all these changes we're going through with our older kids growing more independent, that we can still make time to be together and enjoy each other. The many years of homeschooling have created a bond with each other. My kids are close. They are best friends. And even if one of us doesn't like the beach, we don't mind it so much, as long as we're together. We're thankful for the memories.

What about your family? What did you all do for the 4th of July weekend?  Any new lessons learned?