Today I read this blog post by Lisa-Jo Baker. The title sounded right up my alley and I thought it would tell the story of a kindred spirit, a seasoned mom who is looking back with pain and regret, but then I got to the part where the author talks about graduating into elementary school panic. Oh, my! Honey Bun, I thought, you have no idea. But I was wrong.
Every so often, when a baby is getting baptized at church (that's what Presbyterians do), I am hit with a flood of guilt, remorse and regret and find myself longing to start over and, this time, DO IT RIGHT. But I am 50 and tired and that ain't gonna happen.
But the author of the blog post isn't just talking about her very real but very limited experience with pain and regret, she goes on to tell the story of this man who really did do it wrong. Yet it is a story of hope.
It hit me a few months ago that my relationship with my children does not end when they turn 18. We wring our hands and fret and strive and push and prod and do all we think we must...must...MUST do to make sure that, by the time they are 18, they are ready to forge ahead in the world with the morals of a Puritan, the brains of a nuclear physicist, the drive of a CEO, and the compassion of the Good Samaritan. And if, by the time 18 rolls around, we have not wrapped up our job and rolled our product off the assembly line in a tidy package, well.....tough beans. You snooze, you....and your child....lose.
But there is nothing anywhere to say that our relationship with our children stops when they turn 18. The only thing that stops is our need to sign permission slips. Really, that is it.
I have four children. My oldest turned 24 yesterday. My youngest will be 18 in 9 days. Many would say that my work is done and I will now just have to reap what I have sown. Many would say that if they struggle now, it is my fault, because I didn't do it right back then. Many would say a lot of things.
But the man in the story knew better. The man in the story discovered that what mattered most was relationship. And the man in the story knew that just maybe...maybe....it is never too late for relationship.
I spend a lot of times fretting over the Dos and Don'ts of parenting. But it isn't about Dos and Don'ts. It is about heart. It is about grace. It is about love. It is about second chances. And I will never regret those second chances.