I heard this analogy a couple years ago from a leader about parenting. He said that throughout our children’s lives, it’s like we are packing a suitcase for them. One day, they will leave our home and move on, and they will carry with them all the things we have put into their lives. I loved this concept and it really resonated with me, I’ve shared it with other parents and I really took it to heart. In our family, I’ve tried to consciously think about the things we are investing into our children’s lives as parents through each season. I’ve learned that each phase has been unique and has required different packing skills.
There’s this app I have on my phone called the Legacy App from the Rethink Group. You put your child’s date of birth into it, and it tells you how many weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds you have until your child graduates. If your child was born yesterday on March 31, 2016 – you’d have 890 weeks, 6229 days, 149485 hours, 8969099 minutes and at this precise moment, 538145946 seconds until they graduate. I set this app up a couple years ago, and I click on it once and awhile to see where we are at. It’s a reminder to me to make the most of the time left, the time of greatest influence. This week I was speaking at a parent’s night and I wanted to mention it, so I clicked on my Legacy App and I had a sudden panic attack:
11 weeks. My son graduates in 11 weeks.
I’ll tell you what my first instinct was. I though about that suitcase and my heart started to beat really fast. TIME IS RUNNING OUT! Immediately I switched into super-suitcase packing mode. I started to think of all the things he still needs. It’s like the night before vacation, when you want to make sure you’re not forgetting anything and you run around like a crazy person, stuffing and shoving and re-arranging to get everything to fit.
WHAT DOES HE STILL NEED?
Does he know:
Bed sheets don’t clean themselves.
Credit Cards are not free money.
It’s important to get plugged in somewhere where you can serve.
Avocados get furry if you leave them in your room for weeks.
If you don’t clean out protein powder drinks from your water bottle for 5 days – you might die from the smell.
Every opportunity isn’t the right one.
The more I think about things he might not know, the more I feel like I need to stuff his suitcase as full as humanly possible. If I have to sit on it to get everything to fit and stretch that zipper, I’ll do it!
WE MUST TEACH YOU ALL THINGS IN 11 WEEKS!
Then I remember. I take a deep breath. I’ve been working on his suitcase for a long time. We’ve had all these years together. He’s not leaving my life, he’s just moving on to the next part of his. I think of the times when I have packed my own suitcase to go somewhere and I’m not sure that I have everything. At some point I just zip it up. I think, “Oh well. I’ll figure it out. I’ll make do. I’ll think of something.” So far I’ve always had what I needed.
He’s going to be ok.
We can’t always pack or anticipate every single thing that our children will need. I’m realizing that part of their journey is figuring some of that out on their own. But we can relax and know that they carry a suitcase full of love, encouragement, prayers, words of wisdom, faith, acceptance, confidence and many other essentials that we have helped them pack through the years.
They will be ok.
So, It’s 11 weeks until graduation and a summer together until he leaves for school. (I might be a little clingy, be prepared!) Then, I’m going to watch him move out and onto his next adventure.
My sweet grown-up boy.
Pulling his suitcase behind as he walks out the door.
Packed full of family and love.
Everything he needs for the journey.