This April Tim, Katya, and I spring-breaked on the gulf coast of Florida. One cloudy morning Tim and I hiked through a nature preserve behind my parent’s neighborhood and found a huge bald eagle nest.
“There were two eaglets in the nest,” an office worker told us, but when Tim and I reached the nest, only one juvenile remained. The other must’ve flown away and there was no sign of a parent around. The remaining juvenile stood on an adjacent branch and flapped his wings with the wind, trying to get the courage to take flight. He’d jump up with the breeze, but quickly landed back on the branch. Over and over.
Tim watched for a few minutes then looked for a shortcut back to the road so we wouldn’t get hammered by the ensuing storm.
I stood in the drizzle, watching, mesmerized, mentally cheering him on. After a while of watching him try and try, and then return to the nest in frustration, I had a sore neck from looking up for so long. And my eyes welled up. Why am I crying over a bird trying to fly? Okay, it’s an eagle, and I love eagles, … but still? Tears?
I felt a nudge on my heart (it’s how the Spirit often speaks to me). This exhibition of the eagle juvenile trying to get it’s wings is exactly what I’d been witnessing at home. It’s why my life has been so crazy that I’ve put my writing career on hold. My eaglets are launching. Only a few short years ago our nest was full. We had six teenagers sleeping under our roof.
Billy was the first to fly. Never one for shunning a roller-coaster, he took off fast and furious. I have no recollection of helping him write a resume or giving him interview coaching. He did two internships during college and had a job waiting when he graduated. One week after graduating from Virginia Tech, he married the love of his life, Brynne, went on a week-long honeymoon, and when he returned, moved into the apartment she’d just begun renting for them. His career, his adult life, launched. I look at him now and wonder how my baby turned into such a mature young man.
After graduating high school Will took a gap year working at a camp in Pennsylvania to decide between three possible transitions to adulthood: college, apprentice school, or military. Afterward, he joined the Coast Guard. Tim took the lead on helping Will with this transition and he was off to boot camp, interrupted by a six-week appendix removal recovery at home. He graduated boot camp and was stationed on the Jersey Shore. We had two YAs off the car and medical insurance plans and our cellphone bill was now less than our mortgage. Both of the Williams are the oldest in their original family structure and possess the independent streak often seen with oldest children so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise when they launched quickly and efficiently. Look at me go, Mom and Dad!
With two gone and only four to go, I expected to have all the time in the world to 1) promote HIGH locally, 2) finish DEEP, the sequel, and 3) continue with blog posts and so forth. I expected this because I believed the bulk of my YA parenting role would be 1) keep the refrigerator and pantry stocked (always a challenge), 2) provide occasional advice on dating, friends, and so forth (solicitation is nice, but not necessary), and 3) make sure the kiddos were safe and accounted for most of the time (they stay up later than us, so well, you do the best you can). There’s only one thing I can say about these expectations:
In addition to the three items I expected to be doing, this is a partial list of what I’ve actually been doing:
Driving to several appointments each week (one Young Adult lost driving privileges for several months–see post, I LOVE YA WHEN YOU BREAK MY HEART)
Studying US Government to help daughter #1 graduate. Why do I need to know this stuff? she asks. Because it’ll be on the exam, I say, but I’m really thinking, because this is what all Americans should know.
Praying, and bless the Lord and Mr. Ambler, she passes!
Studying US Government to help daughter #2 graduate.
Praying! She actually gets a perfect score on the final! Thank you Lord!
Planning and implementing two graduation open houses. I want mine early so it won’t be around everyone elses, the Young Adult who finished high school in January tells me.
Watching as two Young Adults graduate from high school and one YA gets his college diploma.
Composing and implement YA contracts* that, while not necessarily received with gusto, are necessary to set expectations during transition.
Encouraging one YA to move out. We’ll pay for your phone bill and car insurance for six months if you’re living elsewhere, but you’ll pay rent and all these other things living here. Thank you, John Rosemond (author of Teen Proofing)!
Praying said Young Adult doesn’t contract some horrible disease from the filth of the house he’s moved to.
Job search coaching to all YAs with daily expectations.
Teaching resume composition to all four YAs.
Job interview coaching for all four Young Adults (they all got the jobs they wanted, yahoo!) and now all know what the acronym STAR means. Or should.
More job coaching when one of the four wants a new job.
Teaching the thrill of household finances. How can I afford to live on my own? says the Philosophy major after crunching the numbers with his entry level retail sales salary.
Facilitating car search, purchase, insurance procurement, and DMV registration for one YA. I didn’t know it would cost this much just to own a car! she says.
Tutoring one Young Adult on writing so she’ll be able to write a coherent essay in college.
Hosting girlfriends, friends, and fiancees. Mom, can (fill in blank with girlfriend or friend from college) stay over this weekend? This is actually great fun and we love having a house full of YAs so we always say YES.
Driving one Young Adult to the ER first thing one Monday morning. Pray he doesn’t need surgery. Visit for hours in hospital every day for that week. Pray the test he needs won’t say he needs surgery. Nurse him at home for the next ten days even though he moved out a month ago. Pray he’ll take this condition seriously and eat right so he won’t need surgery. Though he sleeps a couple of miles away, we feed him lunch and dinner for ??? I don’t know how long, we’re still feeding him (but know he’ll be moving away soon so I just want to enjoy him while he’s here).
Taking cars to the shop and picking up cars from the shop. Pray they’ll last until we can afford new ones.
Driving the Young Adult without car to work or arranging for rides for her.
Praying. Thank you Lord. We are so blessed.
I know I’ve only got the YAs home for a short time. Soon they’ll all set up their own nests. The writing and promoting can wait.
I want to love my YAs.
* If you want to know more about our Young Adult contracts, ask me in the comment section.