April McGowan

Watching Her Fly

Watching Her Fly

Watching Her Fly

These past few months, I’ve been helping my daughter prep for her final SAT’s, getting colleges lined up, discovering I’m not ready and worrying she wasn’t either. To be honest, I’ve been carrying the stress of doing this with me for years. Have I done enough? Did I drop the ball anywhere (oh yes, I know I did!)? Could we really trust God with this person He’d gifted to us for a time?

Yesterday we visited her first college choice. It’s here in town–but nonetheless momentous. As my husband and I dropped her off, I didn’t feel any of the hesitation I expected to feel with this huge step. Maybe it was due to her bright sparkly eyes, or her anticipation of doing something with a group (this highly motivates my extrovert), or watching her excitement of being on her own and stretching her adult legs. It wasn’t half an hour after dropping her off that she texted me. The school chef came out to speak to her personally in line about her food allergies upon hearing her concerns and provided her with safe, tasty food. Then about her dorm room. Then about the fun she was having. And the next day a photo list of all the classes she was going to attend.

We didn’t coach her in these things. We dropped her off thinking she’d have a fun social time, hang out with people she knew who were already attending there, and get the feel of campus. But my daughter went into it with the idea that she would push her limits and get that full college feel–that up late, up early, cram-every-second of classes into your day kind of push. We had no idea she’d do that. In addition to packing her day with classes, she attended three open houses and interviewed department representatives. She got an idea of what each program offered and the scholarships available. She gathered deadlines and contacts.

We met with her adviser and she represented herself, asked good questions, and was professional and outgoing about her passions and goals. My husband and I just sat back seeing this person we’d encouraged to finish projects, hounded to clean her room, and urged to keep deadlines in a new light. We were watching her fly.

As we left, she said, “I’m going to love college.” And she will. She sees it as an opportunity and the keys to opening a door and doing something she’ll love for the rest of her life, not a burden to be carried out. Our hope of homeschooling to create a desire for life-long learning suddenly came to fruition. All the pushing, the nagging, the encouraging had come down to handing the responsibility over to her and her guiding Lord.

So, please excuse this post of joy. I’m not bragging by any means. I’m grateful. So thankful that we held onto the promise that through prayer and teaching and apologizing for mistakes made, this person is ready to go to college. But more than that, this person is ready for adulthood. Ready to fly.

And we’re just standing in appreciation and awe, watching her stretch her wings–watching her fly.

 

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Living Well: What Parenting Means

copywrite AprilKMcGowanChronic illness has taught me what parenting means:

Point One: You can’t do it all. We know on the inside that we can’t do it all and stay sane. But the outside world and all its pressures are tremendous. Trust me—my oldest is finishing up her senior year of high school and all I can think of is those huge lists of MUSTS to get into her schools of choice. Clubs, groups, classes, AP classes, teams, volunteer work, studying, learning, growing. I’m so glad I’m not a kid anymore, because those MUST lists are exhausting. Could you do all the things on those lists? The message is that if we don’t make sure they’ve got all those musts, we’ve let them down.

Is it possible to prepare your child for every contingency?

We can only do our best. Did you tell them how to have a relationship with Jesus? Can they think for themselves and cook well enough not to starve? Do they know how to wash their clothes? Personal hygiene in good shape? We give them the tools, but it’s their responsibility to put it all in practice. Because I can’t hold their hands through it all, I’ve had to learn to let them go and trust that God’s got this. They are their own people with their own successes, heartbreaks, failures, and joys.

Point two: My child is not my accomplishment. My child is not my trophy. They are not my pride and joy—or they shouldn’t be.

Their failures and successes are not mine. They are people trusted to me, loaned to me for a time. Will I always be there for them? As long as I can. Am I always the best person to be there for them? Maybe not. But I can trust God will bring the right person along to fill in the gap. He promises never to leave us nor forsake us—or our kids.

As God has His hand on my life, He also has His hand equally on my children’s lives. Not just when they are ill or injured and we’re praying for their protection, but all the time. All the time. Isn’t that mind-blowing? He doesn’t just take over when they turn 18 and we’ve done all we can to prepare them. He’s got them covered even now. He’s shaping them into the people He knows they can be—way better than we could ever hope to.

They are His pride and His joy. As you are.

Chronic illness has taught me that parenting is not about me, it’s about them. Chronic illness has taught me that my limitations are not my children’s limitations.

In fact, my limitations might be building something inside my children in the way of empathy and compassion that I could have never taught them on my own. Most of all, chronic illness has taught me that I am not the one they need to turn to and lean on for the rest of their lives. The Father is. And as much as I love them, He loves them more.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (in full here)

 

 

 

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