raising a child


We took our youngest child off to college last weekend.  How did the time fly by so fast?  He was our 10th anniversary baby…one night in San Francisco and now he’s off to college! The other two kids’ colleges were within an hour or so from home… but this one was anxious to go far away and chose Nashville, TN, a good 5+ hour drive.  Frankly, I’d move to Nashville in a heartbeat, but its seemingly not in the cards for me, so we’ll have to live vicariously through him.  By the way, he moved into the dorm with a drum set, saxophone, guitar and keyboard…and was right in his element with a dorm full of instruments.

Belmont U. is an amazing place so far. With 1700 incoming freshman, each was assigned a time for move-in. As we pulled up in our fully loaded SUV with U-Haul, there was a cheering crowd of at least 100 students outside the dorm to welcome us.  The moment we stopped the car, at least 20 of them came running over and unloaded the entire car, shouting “Room 313! Room 313!” as they pulled everything out and marched it up to his room, including a queen-sized sofabed which was cheerfully carried up 3 flights of stairs (where will they be at move-out time, however?).  We stood around in amazement and also were quite pleased to find all his books in a box on his desk…the bookstore pulled his class list, picked out all used or rental books, and delivered them as requested, for a price exactly in the range I would’ve paid if I’d gone online to numerous sites picking and choosing a book here and another there…and paying shipping!

The rest of the weekend was a flurry of room setup, various convocations, etc. and even a Matriculation Ceremony.  This is something I’ve never heard of, despite having been involved in no less than 7 different colleges over the years.  It is very much like a graduation, with all the administrators filing in with caps and gowns, followed by the incoming students (in shorts and tees!), a speaker, and even a recitation by the students of a pledge to do their best, not cheat, yadayadayada…At the end, the President officially welcomed them to Belmont and said they were officially now Bruins.

Very cool.  What other school does all that?!  This is a very unique community and school.  Each of the administrators has repeatedly said their mission is to help each student find their God-given path of service.  We’re hopeful that Alex will grow and prosper here…it feels very right.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

There are so many life-changing events occurring within our family this spring, we barely can find time to relax and breathe.  I want to take a moment…I want to remember each and every detail. 

  • Alison and Alan, April 20, 2012

    Alison’s wedding;  I was delayed getting to the church by numerous roadblocks;  I later found out I was the beautician’s FIRST client! which pushed everything late…and I was distressed that I was not there in time to help my only daughter into her wedding gown. *tears* Later when the photos arrived from the professional photographer I was gratified to see wonderful and fun pics of her 4 bridesmaids assisting her…lovely! Perfect!

 

  • Jon’s graduation;  distressed with all the complications caused by a lone professor and his unusual grading methods, but we were still witness to a beautiful ceremony at Purdue University, including a great and humorous talk by a Nobel Prize laureate. All will turn out well in the end.
  • 2 sons, 8 years of Cathedral H.S. now finished.

  • Alex’s graduation; the panic of a forgotten camera dimmed in the importance of a wonderful ceremony, nice speeches, and the bittersweet ending of 12 years of h.s. events, performances, study assists, trips, early morning marching and so many more things.  Now, we just need to make that final payment so we can move on to paying for 4 more years of college…

 

 

So many details of wedding and graduation parties, end-of-year banquets, final projects, moving, new jobs,  new college orientation, etc….we are overwhelmed, sad, yet also happy and so grateful for such a full life.  God has been good.  We look back to 2004 when the bottom dropped out of our world and all the discouraging things that have happened since then…but we can also see all the wonderful things that have also been happening.  We have 3 great kids…and now a new son-in-law as well who is pretty great himself! Neal and I are definitely embarking on a new season in our lives, including caretakers to his aging parents….yet we still see opportunities for ourselves to do new things, unencumbered by the many appointments of kids in school.

Stay tuned!

Our last child…and last Prom.

*whew* The wedding is over.  The newlyweds are back home from their honeymoon and back to work.  The cake pieces returned to the baker, vases returned to the florist, tuxes returned (after being re-used for Prom!) and final invoices paid.  My brain is still not quite settled, but we are living in the glow of a wonderful 3 days of party with our favorite people…friends and family. 

Now we are working on a Purdue University graduation (and I do mean working…there are complications!), a high school graduation, a freshman orientation trip to Nashville, TN and some other celebratory events.

Life is pretty good, but I must admit there looms a shadow on the horizon, and not much sunshine.  We are about to say good-bye to life as its been;  daughter is off living her married life now, K2 is about to move out on his own and start his fabulous new job and K3 is about to move to Nashville for college…some 6 hours away. We will be left here, alone with the pets and the octogenarians who live with us.  Its a new stage of life I am not looking forward to.  We’ve spent the past decades full of games, projects, concerts, tournaments and all the stuff of kids…and we’re really not ready to give it all up. I pray that God has some new plan for us…

When you are a daily caregiver to a couple of octogenarians…on top of working full time, making plans for a wedding and 2 graduations, etc. a good way to deal with the intense stress is to TRY and “accentuate the positive”…and take a moment to appreciate little things as they go by.

I had a good day.  I was thrilled to be able to spend much of the day manning the Super Bowl Host Committee’s Media Center, chatting with reporters from around the world (Italy, Argentina, Australia, NY to name a few!), and helping with story ideas and sources for interviews.  “Where will these football players most likely get in trouble” was one I bounced over to a Sports Corp spokesman (here‘s his story) and ‘tell me more about this Lego Lucas Oil Stadium’ (here is one of many stories and see below for photos). I am looking forward to another such day on Thursday and then a full day in Super Bowl Village on Saturday, the day before The Game, assisting media.

My day was capped off by seeing K3, my youngest son, decked out head to toe in MY clothes!  Even my daughter rarely borrowed my clothes…but it just so happens that I have a decent wardrobe of workout/running attire that my son likes to get into.  Thankfully, I’m not yet old enough or quite chubby enough that he can’t still wear stuff of mine 🙂

Also, daughter was over for dinner with us;  always a treat, since she doesn’t live with us any more!  We spent some time laying on my bed going over some wedding details, too, which was fun.  I must remember to cherish these little things!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I must’ve blinked….how did this happen that my little boy…my youngest child

Little Alex, ice skating with me

…suddenly grew into a young man?

Alex, 18; one senior picture of many! (photog = his brother)

Can't hold off the sunset

Lately I’ve noticed the great similarities between having a child and having an elderly person. Really.  Well, up to a point:

When you’re having a baby, you get all the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”-type books that walk you through every detail of pregnancy, childbirth and life thereafter.  Your friends shower you with gifts of heretofore unknown products like baby-wipe warmers and specialized dishwasher inserts, etc.  Then for the first few years of parenthood, you find yourself hauling that extra equipment everywhere;  loading a child into the car for a trip to the mall or doctor takes an inordinate amount of planning, time and precision;  strollers are folded and packed in just so, diaper bags loaded with all the necessary meds, foods and other supplies, toys strategically placed for maximum entertainment value, children meticulously strapped in, etc.  When you get to your destination, you do it again backwards, unloading, unfolding, unbuckling, etc.  But you feel a certain confidence, as friends and relatives have coached you and outfitted you with the proper equipment and all is loving and good and for the most part the children involved are willing and pliant (okay, forget that part…).

Now let’s say that instead of having a baby, you’re having an elderly person…or two!  Not many instruction books available…usually no 9-month pregnancy period to get used to the idea and “study up”…and no…NO ELDERLY SHOWER!  Nobody gives you the equipment you need;  in fact, nobody even mentions WHAT equipment you might need!  One day you’re frustrated about a certain problem or issue and you head to the Internet and punch “how to help Dad get into bed” into your search engine and Voila!  You find out that there are bed-rails, designed to assist the elderly with the ins and outs of bedtime and turning over, etc. Amazing!  And so it begins…you’re amassing a hoard of specialized equipment again, that needs to be hauled around every time you work up the bravery to go somewhere.   Once again you’re folding and packing things into the trunk, packing a bag with essential meds and foods and whatevers, strategically loading passengers into the car (made more difficult by the fact that you can’t lift them into the car like you can the kids), etc.  When you arrive at the destination, its all reversed…unloading, putting equipment back together, assisting in movement….*whew!  It takes time and patience, as every trip takes at least twice as long as you’d think.

And here’s the kicker…the certain confidence is not there as it was with the children;  there are no cute little babies for people to ooh and aah over as they give you advise, most people don’t know you’re a caregiver or don’t really understand what that means, and they can’t coach you because they haven’t “been there” yet.

This is not the joyful time….this, for the most part, is the sad sunset of life, when we are seeing loved ones decline and become less capable of doing the things they once could do. Emotion gets in the way, in the form of frustration, sadness, and a sense of helplessness.

Society needs to change this!  I have a feeling that with the “bell curve” of Baby Boomers now starting to care for their elderly parents (who are living longer this generation), we just may start to see more highly-publicized social programs and assistance.

In the meantime, I just keep going back to the Internet and any community assistance programs I can find, soaking up as much information as I can.  Each week brings new nuances…changes, adjustments, needs…we just keep trying to keep up with it all!