• Pat Birnie

This is what I wanted, right?

Yes they left a LOT of stuff behind - stuff I'm still dealing with!

I’m feeling a little melancholy today….why is it that we work so hard to raise our kids to be strong, independent adults, but when the time comes it’s so darn hard when they leave us??!!I just came off a wonderful 10 days of family time and I am so grateful to have this gift. If you know me you are aware that family is my #1 value and priority and what brings me more joy than almost anything in the world. My 2 youngest children (young men actually) came for a holiday from Calgary. As any parents of adult kids know, when the kids come home it’s typically for laundry, some sleep and a few meals – the rest of the time is spent catching up with their friends. This was different though – we have recently acquired a cottage and my cottage-crazy boys wanted nothing other than to spend all their time at the lake swimming & fishing, and their evenings around a campfire. I was thrilled with this plan as it meant I’d basically have them to myself for days on end! As the week went on, other members of the family arrived each day, until we reached a grand total of 22 for the last 2 days. It was crazy but so much fun. So. Much. Fun.


So here’s a question: How do you immerse yourself in good times, and not count the days until the end? Let’s call departure day D-Day; on D-Day minus 2 I found myself getting all sad and thinking “they’ll be gone in 32 hours !! I’m surrounded by my entire family, everyone is chatting, laughing, swimming, fishing. I’m hiding behind my sunglasses as my eyes repeatedly fill with tears. (I may or may not have had a couple of beverages that helped my emotions bubble up). Thankfully I was able to give myself a shake, reminded myself about living in the moment and was able to jump back into the party.


Yes they flew home 1 ½ days later and life went back to normal. I realize now that I’ve become so much better at dealing with sending my children off. I have had a lot of practice raising 4 kids that came and went and eventually built their own lives. Wait – that’s our goal as a parent isn’t it? How did I grow from wandering around crying for days on end (a few years back) to shedding a tear or two – feeling melancholy at intermittent moments but basically getting right back to real life?


I guess as I've grown I've learned a few lessons -- and I like to share so here goes:


1. Active parenting ends before you know it! I knew all along that my job as a parent was to raise independent adults; also it’s the hardest job I ever did -now that it has happened why would I be sad? Sure I miss their hugs but am so grateful for free video calling! And video calling doesn't leave a mess!

2. I need to be proud of the kind, loving, self-motivated adults they have become. I won’t lie - those teenage years made me wish they were gone many many times…It’s true what they say – be careful what you wish for!

3. I will always be needed – but it’s only when they need me! I love that I’m the one they call when things aren’t going well and when great things happen. Once again – I know I did a good job!

4. Live in the moment – you truly never know what is coming next. What the heck is the point about being sad and worrying? One of my favourite quotes from Corrie Ten Boom is “worry changes nothing, but rather it robs today of its joy”.

5. This one's for for my young mom friends: what they say is true; these truly are the best years! Treasure the craziness, hugs, dance parties and days that cannot end soon enough. Your house will be quiet soon enough.

6. I really LIKE my quiet, organized house! I like not waiting for the last one to come home at night. I like not worrying about where they are, what they are doing. What I don’t know I can’t stress about!

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