Having a child away at university is a wonderful thing – especially if they’ve gone on a scholarship and are studying to live their dream. But what happens when that adult child comes home for a visit?
Our oldest “child” is beginning his third year of a five year program. He comes home for 10 days at Christmas, a week in the spring and planned to be here for a week this summer. That’s it. Three and a half to four weeks a year is his time at home with us. He has had other small bits of vacation but used it to travel and visit with friends.
It’s hard for a mother to let go of a child and even though it is the right thing, I struggle knowing that he’ll never live under our roof again or ‘have’ to do as he’s told when I see him heading down a dangerous path.
Home last week, our darling man-child had planned to spend the last part of his vacation visiting a friend in another province on his way back to school. He was in a hurry to get going and I was feeling the time flying by. I couldn’t seem to connect with him and his hooded countenance did not inspire joy in this mother’s heart.
Just before his planned departure, his father offered to help him by teaching him how to change the oil in his car. That sounded like a good deal and it would save him a bunch of money. Unfortunately, the next day, when smoke started billowing out of his engine things didn’t look so rosy. The oil pan had sprung a leak and a flex hose had gone bad. Our son has a mechanic friend who offered to take it to the shop but it was going to be expensive! In steps Dad.
For the next two and a half days, our boy and his dad worked and talked and stressed and conquered. My husband is not a mechanic. We have a couple of amazing friends who have been teaching him and as they encouraged him, he was able to encourage our son.
The grumbling surliness that had met me was not the face that worked with his father. His dad was able to meet his needs without the burden of whatever makes a boy think his mother is hovering (surely I don’t hover!). Where he felt he could not talk to me about some things, he did talk to his dad. The hurts and stress that had weighed him down over the last months at school were shared as his dad listened like a man and gave man-type advice.
Those same mothering instincts that drew him to me when he was little made it difficult for him to come to me now. He didn’t want to be hugged and tucked in, he wanted to handle it and carry on.
Realising this doesn’t make our lack of connection this visit any easier but I am so thankful that his dad was able to reach the heart of this child in this season.
Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he won’t depart from it.
My boy is going to be ok. We’ll have other visits and there will be times when he does need a mother’s hug. Navigating his new role as a man will simply continue the journey begun when this precious child was born.
In Matthew 9:9-13, Jesus set the example of meeting people where they were and reaching out to them in that place. We can do that with our children.
Mom’s don’t be discouraged. You are training your children to grow and become independent. Sometimes you won’t like the choices they’ve made and sometimes, their choices will cause hurt. Learn and grow together.