I have survived the first week with one child out of the nest. Patrick didn’t even test his wings first. He took flight and kept going. In the past week, he has been home for maybe an hour, and that was only because he was waiting for me to finish getting ready for church. I miss him, but mostly I am happy that he has fallen into his new life with ease. I have, of course, seen him—any time I can find a reason to drop by his dorm. I had a chance to sit and visit with him and a couple of his new friends a few nights after he moved in. It amazes me that he ended up rooming with a stranger who could not have been more of a perfect match for him if I had hand picked someone. God is so good. He knows what we need and how to make it happen. We had some major complications in getting Patrick settled into the right dorm. His scholarship contract was lost in the shuffle somewhere, which caused him to be placed in the wrong dorm. It took weeks of me calling and visiting the housing department as well as maneuvering through all of the red tape in order to ensure that Patrick received his scholarship before he was finally placed in his second choice dorm, which has the same floor plan as the honor’s dorm he had chosen as his first choice. Now, after meeting Patrick’s roommate, as well as the new friends Patrick has acquired through him, I know that God created the situation for just this outcome. It was a struggle that I would like to say I managed gracefully, but there were moments when I succumbed to tears of frustration before digging my heels in and refocusing on my goal. It was worth it, though, and I know that God expected me to trust Him enough to continue the fight and that He led me to the right people and gave me the strength to remain calm and treat all of them with respect. I could not have done it in my own strength.
I do not enjoy change. I thrive best within the boundaries of routine. I like dark edges that define where I am supposed to be and that ensure predictability. I have learned, however, that there is only one thing that I can predict and that is the inevitability of change. I sometimes envy those who get up every morning to return to a job that requires the same thing day after day and week after week. Even when life circumstances change, their role in it is the same. I am aware that I could have had this assurance had Jeff and I not made some of the choices we have—choices that took me out of my career path. We chose to homeschool, and with that choice came the added responsibility of ensuring that our children did not miss extracurricular opportunities. When they were younger, there wasn’t a lot of change to adapt to from year to year with schooling. In the summer, I ordered new books and planned lessons for the following year. I knew which extra activities they would be involved in and my role in them. As each child moved into the junior high years, teaching became more of a challenge that required studying on my part and the realization that I was the one preparing to move each of them into high school and, ultimately, out of high school. High school was every bit the challenge that everyone so willingly warned me of, and it has been regrettably different for each of my children. Just when I felt that I had a handle on all that I needed to know to move one of my children out of high school and into college, the next child came along with entirely different needs and abilities to meet them. I kept a binder with all of Madison’s senior year activities so that I would be able to use it as a manual when Patrick reached his senior year. After Patrick’s first ACT scores came back, I realized that I had a whole new realm of responsibility in making sure that he received the scholarships that were sure to come available to him. There was so much paperwork, and I was always so afraid that I would miss something and Patrick would have to pay the price for it. We followed him in every direction he chose to explore, even when that took us to LSU and the realization that Patrick may not choose to follow the family’s footsteps to ULM. In the end, it was Patrick’s decision to stay here, and we were proud that he weighed all of his options and made the decision based on what was the best for his school career. Still, there were times when we wanted to take the reins. Sometimes I was the strong one, and other times it was Jeff. Each time, we reminded the other that God was leading Patrick and would let him know what to do. Now, with two binders full of useful information, I am accepting the fact that neither will be a blueprint for Carter’s senior year. We are hoping for TOPS and academic scholarship opportunities, but Carter has his heart set on jumping for ULM’s track team. I am now learning the ins and outs of scouting and once again worrying over the possibility of missing the one crucial step that will cost Carter his dream.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time my edges were defined. I exist within the blurry boundaries of constant change. I have learned that I do not have to find my footing before taking the next step. My circumstances require me to look months or years in advance, but I am learning to stay in the moment while doing so. My edges are blurred, but they are edges still the same, and edges, no matter how undefined, are meant to give shape and purpose to all that is contained within.