My eldest turned 20-years-old Sunday. We celebrated at Buca di Beppo Saturday evening with her boyfriend, best friend, and her siblings. This was her selection for the big day.
I immediately began to weep...it was in that moment I realized that the shift was finalized. That place where the line is drawn in the sand between rearing the child and remembering their childhood. The formative years are over. I'm not sure why 20 is the age that I feel this way with her; let's be honest, she has parented Jason and I for a very long time...
I just kept saying out loud to myself, "Did she enjoy her childhood? Did I teach her what she needed? When she reflects back over these past 20 years does she have anything to overcome, or is she launching from a solid foundation to only continue to build?"
In March, Jason and I were asked to be the guest speakers at the Couples Banquet at the parent/child center. Those who invited us wanted us to speak from a place of overcoming challenges (teenage pregnancy, poverty, marrying young, etc...) to accomplishing our goals in life. I pondered this for weeks, and as usual at the midnight hour God said a couple of things to me: build your dream home & give them a childhood they don't have to overcome.
I'm not, by any means, equipped to counsel people on life, but I can share my story. Jason and I have built two homes, the first was brick and mortar, but the second is our favorite...it's the one we build every morning and the one God spoke to me about sharing. We frame the walls of our day with our words...we try to speak life to each other, and our children. "Good morning, I love you, be encouraged, be God's man/woman today..." You'd be amazed at how changing your words in the morning will set the tone for your day, and the way your family responds to you. On the days we fail at this concept it truly has a negative effect on our days.
But the other portion of the presentation was: Give Them a Childhood They Don't Have to Overcome. I think that's pretty self-explanatory so I won't drone on about the details, but I say this now to bring this blog full circle. As I stood in front of those couples in March speaking about these revelations God had shared with us so many years ago in our moments of desperation, I had not stopped to realize that I was on the cusp of having this moment in my own life with my daughter; the moment where I stopped and looked at her to say, "Did you enjoy your childhood?"
If I could impart anything to parents of younger children through this blog, invest in your children daily with words, proper discipline, prayer, wisdom, instruction, love, and building memories. Don't let a day pass where you haven't fed them more than just food...for tomorrow they will be 20 and flying on their own.
(Yes, I know she's still mine, and she's still listening to me, and all those wonderful things, but it's different now...)
In other Thomas family business:
Sunday, due to my cheer camp chauffeuring duties, I had to miss these sweet boys being baptized! These two nephews are the epitome of snips & snails, and dirt & 4wheelers. They are rambunctious, red-headed (one of them), and now redeemed! I cannot praise my God enough for their salvation, and thankful for a momma who has been faithful to take her babies to church and bathe them in the word until their day of salvation!
I adore living beside my sister and getting to watch her sweet girls grow up. We passed down some books to my oldest niece this week that belonged to my girls. Books that will teach her about manners, money, friendship woes, and her body. Another reminder that life is moving too quickly. I snapped this pic as I pulled into our subdivision last evening. I love the way she plays with her babies, and wished I had taken more time to just play with mine at this age.
The middle girl had her appendix removed a couple weeks ago. It was her first experience with anesthesia...needless to say we captured some videos to cheer us up on gloomy days. Apparently, teenagers live through their phones and wifi is as important as food. The hospital's wifi was not behaving after her surgery was over and she couldn't respond to her friends text and calls. The tears flowed until she sobered up, and our tears from laughter flowed freely. Good thing she sobered up...she was plotting a lawsuit against the hospital, the wifi company, and the people in the room beside us who were surely "hogging all the wifi!"
Back to the 20-year-old: I didn't know there was such a thing higher than Dean's List but she accomplished just that: President's List! We came home from vacation to her diploma in the mail, and it's decree that she had graduated with "High Distinction!" I've also watched a passion-to-craft ignite in her this summer as she sits at the counter each night, in her dad's game room, painting canvases, and various items. She is working ahead for her future "little" she will have as a part of her sorority this coming fall semester.