Saturday night I drove away from my brother’s house, leaving behind my oldest daughter (age 10) and part of my heart.
Our daughter had a wonderful opportunity to spend several days with her aunt at a local county fair, helping to take care of the farm animals alongside the agriculture students from a nearby high school. She has been talking about becoming a farmer for the last couple years and this was an opportunity that she didn’t want to pass up. Apparently guinea pigs are just a gateway animal. Fortunately for us the city has regulations about farm animals within city limits!
As I left her behind, I was at once peaceful and anxious. The peace was peace that only comes from God, the kind that passes all understanding. I knew that we were doing the right thing. I knew that she’d be as safe as her aunt and uncle could make her. I knew that we had prepared her for an opportunity just like this. Not the taking care of animals part; I have no idea how to do that. But the growing up part. The making good decisions part. We’ve been teaching and guiding and training her from when she was a wee little girl.
But there comes a time when the rubber has to meet the road.
A few weeks ago the podcast focused on homeschool grads and if they felt prepared for life after high school. The nugget of wisdom that I took away, and had already been thinking about for several months, was that we as Christians live in the world, but we don’t have to be like the world. But in order to be salt and light in this world, we need to know how to engage with people. How can we engage with people if we never talk to them? Or listen to them? Or even have any idea how to interact with them?
My husband and I have been talking about this issue for years. It is a delicate balance between protecting our children until they are mature enough to process information themselves and just plain sheltering them. We are constantly evaluating where each of our children are so that we can best decide what information they need. It is a tough call most of the time.
We believe strongly in walking alongside our children through life so that we can help them navigate some really tough decisions. But we are also aware that there comes a time when they have to flex their muscles independent of us. And instead of sheltering our children for 18 years and then throwing them into the deep end that is the world outside our family, we have to give them opportunities here and there to try out those muscles as they are growing.
This is one of those times.
It may seem like no big deal. So what? She spends a few days with some other kids, learning how to shear a sheep and milk a cow.
And this is where the anxiety part came in. These are public school kids! These are older kids! I don’t know their parents! I don’t know what kind of families they come from or if they have ever even heard the name of Jesus.
That’s kinda the point.
This is an opportunity for our daughter to stretch those muscles that she’s been developing, while still being cared for by people that love her and want God’s best for her.
This parenting gig is tough. I am absolutely positive that if one day in the future Fletch and Kendra interview my kids, at least one of them will tell their story of the way my husband and I screwed up. Since it’s inevitable, we’re just going to keep pointing our kids to Jesus. And pray that they in turn will point other people to Jesus.
Michele White is the wife of one, mother of five, daughter of the King (God, not Elvis). Living a substantial part of their family’s life overseas has made them a little quirky. She spells things differently. Her husband has an accent. Her kids have multiple passports. She is a lover of cookbooks, passionate about orphans, and has a serious crush on school supplies. Michele blogs about homeschool life with multiple ages at Preschoolers And Peace and can be found on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.