Growing Up as a Grown-Up

If you’ve had the fortune (or misfortune) of reading my blogs, you’ve likely noticed that I’m a big baby when it comes to my kids growing up. My wife and I have worked hard to raise strong, responsible, independent young people, but then I whine and complain when our kids start to become the very adults we hoped they would be.
There’s a reality I simply struggle to grasp: raising children involves loss. As much as I love fatherhood, and as much as I cherish the memories of those little kids running around our house, I mourn the fact that those kids are sailing on ships that will never return. I grieve because I have lost something.
Spending time as a family helps, but not always enough. For example, we enjoy watching movies together, but those fun times have not minimized my sense of loss. If anything, they make me sadder. The Toy Story movies are a case in point. The original movie came out in 1995, four years before my son was born. Toy Story 4 was released in 2019, the year my boy turned 20. The four movies spanned my son’s growing up years. He dressed up as “Woody” when he was little; now he’s in his third year of college and dressing up only in his basketball uniform. As Toy Story’s main “human” character, Andy, grew up, so did my son. In Toy Story 3, Andy’s remaining toys were accidentally donated to a day care center, while Andy prepared to leave for college. In the most recent movie, Toy Story 4, the whole franchise seemed to be crossing a finish line, as if to punctuate the ending of my son’s childhood.
I want my kids to grow up, but I don’t love it when it happens. I guess I’m still growing up as a grown-up. Somehow, I need to embrace the adult stage of my children’s lives. And there are things that help. I love the relationship that my son and I are building, now that he’s a teenager no more. I love that his morals and values and work ethic are in line with what I’ve tried to teach and model for him. The greatest words I’ve heard my son speak (actually, he wrote them in a card) are these: “I’m thankful for the way you raised me.” I want to anticipate a wonderful future and focus on the adult friend I’m gaining, not the childhood son I’ve lost. And as always, God’s Word helps me focus on what’s most important:
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4)
Troy Burns