Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Musings Inspired By A Six Year Old

Kate is a little philosopher.

In February, we were invited by my parents on a wonderful Disney vacation. It was mid 80's the WHOLE time we were there which, after the cold winter we have had, was amazing! (As I write this, we are staring down our fourth nor'easter in 1/2 as many weeks. I am missing those 80 degree days!)

But I digress...

Kate just says the cutest, heartfelt things. While in Disney, Kate and I were 'ride buddies' for the Ariel ride in the Magic Kingdom. During the ride when Ariel is facing her dilemma of being a mermaid but in love with a human, Kate looked at me and, with a very matter of fact tone said, "Mommy, people just need to live their own lives."

Then, just this morning, Kate and I were driving back from a doctor's visit, and we were discussing what movie she would like to watch together so she could rest. (She's been sporting a low grade fever and a nasty cold since Friday). I suggested Moana, because we own it but we haven't watched it in a while and it's more of a "girl" movie and there were no brothers home at the time. Kate said,(with an incredulous tone), "Moana's parents don't want her to leave the island. Didn't they know that the water was her friend?!? It called her!"

Out loud, I reminded Kate that Moana's Dad lost his best friend when he tried to leave the island so he was just afraid that something bad would happen to Moana. He was just trying to keep her safe.

Inside my head and my heart, I have to admit that I kind of like Moana's Dad's plan just a little. Or maybe even more than a little if I'm completely honest!

Our family is standing on the brink of some enormous change! In just two short months, there will be two additional college graduates in the house. Andrew has already secured his first real job after he attended a recent job fair. God's fingerprints are all over this new opportunity that will start right after his May graduation. I think Andrew's plan is to live at home for at least a little while to pay down some of his college loans more quickly, but I don't foresee it being all that long until he ventures out to live in one of his best friend's apartment.
Andrew and Kate

Jon will also be graduating in May and just the other day sent his letter into UNH accepting an assistantship position and securing his spot in their Ocean Engineering Graduate Program that starts at the end of August. Since he lived home over the last four years and commuted to college, this will be a very big change for us. Once he leaves in August, my guess is that his presence in our house will be mostly as a visitor. Jon's grad school program is two years long and includes two summers. Once those 2+ years have gone by, I think Jon will be moving on in a way that won't include returning to our home as a permanent resident.(At least Ellie is hoping he doesn't move back...she has already called "dibs" on his room.)
Jon and his girlfriend, Marisa

Plus, Jon will be spending several weeks traveling in Ireland starting at the end of May. He has such wanderlust....and saved all last summer to afford to take this trip. Gotta love all the opportunities that parenthood gives us to work on growing and stretching beyond our comfort zones!

Yes...Moana's father and I could be VERY good friends...

Mike is looking to spread his wings a little farther than the apartment that's 5 minutes away from us. A new job and a new adventure are right around the corner for him, we just don't know all the details yet.
Mike and me

And Sarah...she's pushing the growing up envelope too! She started college just this year. But, because of all the AP classes she took in high school and a CLEP test she took last summer, Sarah started off with so many college credits that she is actually a junior!! Blows.my.mind! This overachieving daughter of ours continues to overachieve in college, and next year at this time she will be making her own decision about where to go to graduate school. And it won't be a commuting school, either!
Sarah, me, and Ellie

And, just like that, our daily household will shrink from 8 kids to 4.

I am in denial...and shock.

So many different emotions swirl through me every day. I am proud of the paths my kids have chosen so far. I'm excited for all these new opportunities that are opening up before them. Their eyes are open wide and all their senses ready for all these new adventures and to see where life will bring them. The small world that had their family as the center is now expanding rapidly. I know we will always be a part of their lives, but we are no longer the center. My role for my older crew is less and less of a caretaker and more and more that of a cheerleader.

I know that, as a parent, this place that I am right now with my older crew is progressing exactly as it should be. I am so grateful for that. But it's also incredibly painful! Change...even good change...is not easy. There is much grief mixed with the joy because life as I have lived for the last 25 years is ending. My identity is changing. The way I relate to my older kids is changing. Slowly over the last several years, I have started to let go and they have taken the reigns of their own lives. I offer ideas, and suggestions, and advice, but then back away to let them make the decisions. Before too long, the big decisions they make will be completely on their own...and eventually with their spouses.

I look at Ellie and I know that her high school years will go by incredibly fast. The slow letting go process has already begun. I try to ignore it...but I can't stop it no matter how much I might want to some days.
Marisa, Jon, and Ellie

Peter is approaching 6 feet tall and will be 17 in July! Looking to the future for Peter is even more of a challenge. Trying to figure out how to help him have a fulfilling life and making sure he's cared for by people that love him is a focus I have and am praying about.
Peter and Mike

I look at my not so little Luke and I cringe because I know what's coming. I see the changes in him already. He doesn't run over and give me giant hugs when I see him at school with his friends now. I get a smile and a wave. That didn't happen when this school year started! I might have cried a little on the inside the first time it happened....A little on the outside too once I got to my car! Thankfully, Luke is still very affectionate when we are at home! But I know that won't last forever either.

And my Kate, my sweet girl with a side of sass. She has changed and grown so much this year. She is another overachiever and very sensitive. Thankfully, Kate is still very affectionate and still runs over to give me hugs when I see her at school no matter who is watching! She snuggles on my lap now and her gangly, Hamel legs seem to have no place to go. She is my littlest, but already so big. My heart aches a little at every milestone she makes because it marks the last of the firsts that we will go through with our kids.

Our family has been like an island, and now more of my children are setting out to chart their own lives. It's kind of like childbirth. Once a baby is ready to be born there's no stopping the process. The same holds true for young adulthood. There's no holding them back once they are ready to move on. It's truly bittersweet.