Jonathan arrived home right at lunchtime, and as we were sitting around the kitchen table eating street tacos I realized how much I love watching our sons chatting and smiling and talking a language that Joe and I do not comprehend—a language of video game battles and board game strategies and YouTube personalities.
After lunch they were driving to Folly Beach where they will join six other groomsmen in celebrating Nicholas' bachelor weekend. As we watched them drive away I felt things shift, just a little bit. We are parents of two grown sons, and one almost grown son, and every day the three of them walk (or drive, or fly) taller and stronger and faster into this thing we call LIFE.
As parents, our role is changing. Joe and I used to be in front leading the way. Like a lighthouse on a rocky shore we offered foundation, faith, and guidance. We illuminated the darkness so they could see possibilities and pathways. Then came the day we gave each of our sons a flashlight and stepped back, allowing them to explore on their own. We no longer walked in front, but alongside them, even as they explored further and further.
And now they have pulled ahead, and we stay behind, which is a little sad but also all kinds of wonderful. From our vantage point we see them forge pathways and explore hidden lands and see and do things we have never done. Now it is their turn to shine. And so we watch.
It is hard, scary, sad.
It is beautiful, inspiring, exciting.
It is as it should be.
But we will always be that lighthouse, illuminated on the rocky shore, beckoning them home again.