Friday, August 21, 2015

Project 365: Day One

I’ve spent the last ten years giving assignments to other people; this assignment is for me.  I’m calling it "Project 365"--the goal is to get one year's worth of posts (365).  Even if it takes me five years. 

This is a completely arbitrary day to begin this project.  It’s not the first of the year. It’s not the first of the month. It’s not even a Monday.  Perhaps it’s a heart thing. Despite my classes starting on Tuesday, today was my last day of "mama" summer.  

Today the last of my two “Gators” moved back up to the university, marking the official, this-is-really-it-folks, end of summer.  The first to go back to school left on Wednesday. I am not actually this one’s mama, but I was for the summer, so the separation is just as hard.

For the most part, I am glowing with a rush of gratitude for the summer we had. It was a summer filled with lots of hard work, but also two blissful, relaxing and long-over due family vacations.  It was a blessed and slow-paced time of making things right, restoring broken places, and reveling with deep appreciation in the weirdness that is us.  

Now it’s over, and this year that feels particularly significant.

I am delighted with where each of my young people is at the start of this new year.  My oldest, Katie,  and our sweet Grace began the summer fragile, exhausted by adulthood, and anxious about life, but both returned to school with greater peace, direction, and confidence in themselves and their plans. I felt grateful and thrilled to see the work that this summer had done in them, and I am excited for their year ahead.   

Those who remained on the farm are moving forward just as much as the two who will have their own apartments. My free-spirit Hallie is working three jobs, going to college, and absolutely blowing my mind, because this is the girl who was content to stay at home, create beautiful things, and daydream. 

My baby, my almost man, is about to take college classes as a high school senior (pray for us) while beginning a new job and filling in as the stand-in man and lifter of heavy things when his Daddy’s away.  

 It’s a sweet place for a mama to be, standing on the sidelines cheering as her young-uns charge into the game with determination.  So, yeah, I am beyond grateful with where we are ending this summer. 

Still, I gotta say, the transition back to school feels especially momentous. This year I realize that--as of today--what Jen Hatmaker dubbed “The Family Years” are essentially over.  All my offspring are finding their own ways into the world brilliantly, but I'm acutely aware that those ways always lead eventually out of the nest--for good, if we've done our jobs right.   

We’ll always be family and always love and enjoy each other, and it will be good.  But we will never live all together in the same way again.  I realize this is a good thing; it was actually the end-goal of this whole clumsy child-rearing thing all along. 

For now, though, I’m sitting here blubbering (thank you, Christy Nockels for providing the accompaniment), and I feel the need to mourn—just for a minute. 

Because we Odells do FAMILY really well

I know the passing of this stage will lead us into a new one that is beautiful and rewarding in unimaginable ways, but—just for this evening—I’m going to lean into my happy-sad tears and take the time to say a proper goodbye.


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