So, my youngest son had his last day of high school today. He had exams this past week, all which took little time to finish. His English teacher, upon his exiting the room yesterday, told him to major in English, punctuating that sentiment with, "Don't waste your talent."
His current education plan involves majoring in psychology with the intent of becoming someone on Criminal Minds or CSI. I don't know as if he'll keep up with it once he discovers how science oriented psychology actually is. But we'll see.
This new situation means I am about to embark on that existence they call the "empty nest."
Except my kids come home often, text me regularly, and call for advice when they have mysterious rashes or need to know how to cook a pork chop. They're not gone.
But yes, life will be different. It means that the magical hour of 3:00 pm is no longer a bench mark which determines how I spend my afternoon. I won't have to hurry home from the store to be there when my kids get home. Technically, I haven't had to because my kids are okay on their own; it was a matter of wanting to be there with them. Motherhood flies so quickly once they get into the teen years. We have to make those moments count. I was the mom with the warm coffee cake, or chocolate chip cookies waiting for the kids. I want them to know I looked forward to seeing them come home.
I have noted a change in the way 12 grade students look now compared to when my oldest graduated, five years ago.
Kids my sons age live in fear of being disconnected from the world via whatever is their technological toy of choice. When I suggested to a friend of my son's that she turn off her phone at night, she looked at me as if I suggested she play Lady Godiva.
Kids my sons age don't know how to use the phone particularly well, nor do they seem to want to. They want faceless conversation. Unless it is Skype. If they could use Skype, they would be happy. I don't understand that. I like Skype, but I don't understand the willingness to Skype, but avoid the use of the phone.
Kids my sons age multi task more than my daughter did. With my daughter is was an odd combintion of MSN (which is so passé now) iTunes, homework and the television. Now, there's all sorts of things they do simultaneously which means that perhaps 3 hours lectures may be a drag. Although, with wireless internet on most campuses, they can always surf the web while the prof lectures. The thing is, the profs don't care if your kid is messing up and wasting their money. It's no skin off their nose if your kid invest $10,000 and fails. I am not making this up. My daughter said that's the way it is on campus.
I suppose I ought to feel somewhat melancholic about my son graduating. I will miss him a great deal, but I think it's good for young men to get out and struggle through life, learning to be independent. It is going to mean he has a few stumbles, but those will be good for him. We are the generation of "helicopter parents," so being out from my view may be good for him.
And of course, such changes make me stop and ask myself: "What is my purpose?" Of course on a "big picture," level, that's an easy answer: to glorify God with my life. To serve Him. To grow in Him. But on a logistical level, that can happen in many ways.
I've thought a lot about what I like doing and what I'm suited to do. Some days, I feel like I'm not good at anything, and then there are days when I think, "Yeah, I think I can do that."
There are things like taking photos, making quilts, teaching bible studies, and volunteering that are all potential areas to keep on pursuing. Some of them mean learning more. I'd like to do all, but life is busy with older kids who live away from home. If I want to see them, it means going where they are. None of my kids is fortunate enough to own a vehicle of their own, so I have to go there.
Today, I took my son to stand in line to process forms for getting his passport. It was an hour drive there, puttering around town, visiting my daughter, and going home. He spent some time chatting to me, and some time listening to music. I drove through that lovely, lush, country drive and thought a few times that I wish I'd had my camera with me. I thought a few times, "wow, that's a good idea to write about." While I sat in the passport office, I was overloaded with tweets from the Gospel Coalition ladies' conference. I decided I would rather wait and listen for myself.
What I know for a certainty is that whatever I do, I want to keep learning. I want to know God more. I want to keep on this path of discovering more about Him, working to understand what His Word says, how to defend my faith, how to live the gospel in every aspect of my life. In addition to thinking about writing and pictures, I made a mental list of the books I feel I need to read in addition studies I want to do (like that one by Kathleen Nielson on Joshua).
I don't think I will lack for things to keep me occupied, but there needs to be a focus. I was reading The Call, by Os Guinness, and there is a very intriguing quotation by George Santayana that is making me think:
"In accomplishing anything definite a man renounces everything else."
Accomplishing means giving up something else. Serving means giving up things.
Seems my boy and I are both on the brink of new things.