This month sent me through both extremes of parenting an adult child. First, pride. My oldest graduated with honors from college. He managed to maintain excellent grades while working thirty-five hours a week. The moment Tech’s name was called at the ceremony our homeschooling experience received its final stamp of approval. I didn’t ruin my kid by schooling him at home. He’d proved that a homeschooled child cannot only finish college, but finish well.
Beyond that, he was hired for his first “real” job the same day as graduation. They chose him not only for his coding skills, but also his outgoing personality. Take that, unsocialized homeschooler myth. Beyond schooling, Tech remained deeply involved in his church at a time many children fall away from the Lord. Hubby and I had managed NOT to destroy the compassionate, smart, capable man God had created. It was a time of celebration, and we traveled back home missing him but content that he would be fine in his next phase of life.
The call came four days later. “I’ve been in an accident. We were stopped at a red light and someone plowed into us going 55.” Thus began the second extreme of parenting an adult child–fear. When you let them out into the world on their own, you trust that they’ll be fine. But that’s not always the case. In that moment, he wasn’t that smart, capable adult. He was my baby, and someone hurt him. It took all the willpower I had not to sprint out the door toward the mid-west. Not drive, mind you. It was a primal instinct just to take off running like Flash. While Tech sounded coherent, I knew he wasn’t okay.
I managed to wait an hour until initial reports came back. “I’ve broken my back, but in the best possible way.” What does that even mean? I tried to talk to the doctor, but Tech is an adult. I needed permission. Not that Tech wouldn’t give it to me, but there was a paperwork problem. At this point, I’d gone beyond Flash to Hulk Smash. The wait was over, airport here I come.
I dashed through the terminals, praying that I would make my flight. I can only imagine how silly this chubby, middle-aged woman looked, weaving in and out of the crowd. I arrived at the gate out of breath, but still five minutes before departure time. However, I was told the door was already shut. The staff even communicated with the pilot, but it was too late. I could not board.
The giant, green rage monster almost exploded all over the poor Delta employees, but then came the still, small voice. You know the one. It reminded me that I had prayed for favor, but didn’t receive it. If I say I trust his will, that means I trust it even when I don’t like the answer. “I’m in control,” God reminded me. “Tech is my child. I’m watching over him.” I’d love to say my anger just melted away in the moment, but I’d be lying. It took some time for the anger to fade, but it did. Peace replaced it.
I finally got to Tech. He had a concussion and three fractured vertebrae. What I thought would be a few days turned into two weeks while we waded through medical red tape. I felt frustration, but not fear. After the airport, I remained at peace. I didn’t know what the outcome would be: best case scenario–bed rest, worst case–surgery. But I knew that God was in control either way. Thankfully, everything turned out well. No surgery or PT. The neurosurgeon cleared Tech to work. My last day there he bought a new car and started his new job.
Once again, I felt pride. During this crisis, he’d still managed to make wise choices about his care, his job, and his car. He was still compassionate, being concerned for the guy that hit them. He was still smart, knowing when he needed to stop and rest his back. He was still capable, going into the credit union by himself to finalize his car loan. I was, once again, content that he would be fine in this next phase of life.
Until, he pulled out of the car dealer’s parking lot. My chest tightened, and that fear crept back in. “Lord,” I pleaded, “Please don’t let anyone hit him.”
I think that’s how it is parenting an adult child. Pride at their accomplishments blended with fear of what could happen out in the big, bad world. Truthfully, I don’t think I could make it without the knowledge that Tech has another parent. He has a father in heaven who loves him far more than I could. Even when I’m twelve hours away, God holds my son in his hands.
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Eph 3:18