This is one of several texts she's sent this week as she visits Florida over spring break. It's the first vacation she has planned and paid for herself so she's quite excited. She goes to a northern school that fights the cold for many months so, to be honest, I'm sure she's quite happy about her current temperatures. She's been to Disney, driven to the beach, and eaten in some fabulous restaurants. She is a full-time student and works in a residence hall on campus. She's worked hard for this vacation, saving money for her adventure.
With each new text, I smile. I enjoy seeing my children find their way in this world. Each one is working their way into careers they love, building new friendships, and discovering new places. There's something about watching them build their lives that brings me joy. It's rewarding to see how the experiences they've had are shaping the lives they are creating.
Having adult children is different. Exhaustion is replaced with worry. Safety is replaced by opportunity. Care is replaced with support. Games and play are replaced with family dinners and get togethers. Sometimes it's a bit strange to have a house that is so quiet in the evening. Sometimes it is strange to not have to race home, cook dinner, and rush right back out the door to transport someone somewhere. Sometimes it's strange to not know everything about their days. Sometimes I catch myself missing this or that, but honestly I love this new phase where I'm watching my children begin to build a life.
Of course I treasure memories of cradling the kids as infants while they slept contentedly in my arms. There are memories of bedtime stories, family vacations, and dinner conversations that will always be close to my heart. However, I think I've always been a parent who celebrates the milestones toward independence. There were the claps of joy as they took their first steps. The heartwarming moment as each read their first book. The anticipation of possibility as I sent each one off on their very first day of school. There were the mixed feelings of opportunity and risk when a driver's license was first issued. There was the joy as each selected their college, and perhaps a tear or two as we settled them into their first dorm.
Life is as it should be. Each moment is worth holding tightly and noticing its finest detail. There's something to love about every phase, and right now I'm loving watching my children build a life.