To the Skies: Departing Thoughts For Kids That Leave

Tucker (18yrs) is off to the US/Canada for the next 5 months. A goodbye lunch.

Insert Boyz to Men.. “It’s so hard, to say goodbye, to yesterday.”

For some odd reason, it doesn’t seem to be getting easier to say goodbye to our young adults. When we moved to Ukraine in 2008, we had six children under 11yrs of age. The thought of saying goodbye and seeing them transition into new forms of independence was a distant future. We knew it would come, just unaware of how quickly it pounces upon you. That distant future, is now! How did it get here so quickly?

Tucker, our #4, is off again to Canada for the summer to work (hopefully) on our family farm. He flew out this morning. Before that can happen, he’ll need to land in Buffalo, get a fresh covid test, then attempt to cross over at Niagara Falls. The chances of him getting in, though he should legally be allowed to enter, Vegas has it at 50% with the government’s excessive fear campaign. If denied entry, he’ll be on an even more exciting adventure as he gets to decide whether to visit his sister in PA, or his brothers in FL, or as Tucker said, “Maybe I’ll just settle in Buffalo for the summer.”

Tucker is unlike any of our other kids. We parents can say that about all our children, of course. So diverse, so unique, God has such a marvelous way of weaving us together in our person. He’s a lot like his mama, reserved, quiet, present. He’s a good listener, he doesn’t seek attention. When Brent left last year, we wondered how the other pea in the pod would do. They were so close, growing up in the same room, and often the same bed as large families go. It’s been cool to see him develop, to spread his own wings, and begin navigating his next steps.

Early years in Ukraine. The week Noah fell out of the van. Tucker far side orange shirt. Broderic, Bronwyn, and Brent all in the US now. Our grocery bill is one decrease we rejoice in.

He’s a creative talent. When he started into graphic design, I thought at first, “Oh no, here’s an industry that will not be kind.” With design, like singing, you either have it, or you don’t. Tucker dove into learning photoshop and different tools, reading books on design, and really applied himself over the past few years. The results are really impressive – he’s got a real knack for typography, and visual design. He’s designed coffee shop logos, several US/Canada and Ukraine projects including billboards. Ok, enough plugging my son, I just want everyone to know he designs for food if he shows up at your door!

Here’s his online portfolio, take a peak.

Though Tucker is the tallest in our family, at a whopping 6’5 or so, he’s still our little Tucky. I can see his little smirk, not wanting to show his emotion but his joy radiating through. He’s a joy to have around, and we will miss him this summer. I think I miss him already, because I know he’s transitioning, a new season emerging for him, and more transition for us back home. The ebb and flow of adaptive growth. Great, now another song, Elton John Lion King… come sing with me, “the cir——cle…..”

I was thinking the other day, how families indeed are always a state of flux. We think of first having kids, then they grow up, get married and have kids on their own – yet I’ve often thought of these stages as set fixed categories that happen in sequence, as if when you are ready, you push a button.. “Ok, kids are finished, let’s start a new season!” The reality is, they all take place in a family, especially large ones, simultaneously, overlapping one another. While some kids are losing their teeth, others getting their license, and then one decides to get married. Wait, hold up, but I’m not ready! That’s the point, there is no ‘ready’ for new things, only trust and moving ahead.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Soren Kierkegaard

Our younger kids don’t know what it’s like to welcome a new sibling into the family, the change that brings, the adjustments of a new baby and family dynamics of growth. They only know departure, the change of becoming less in number, and the dynamics of decrease. Watching Tucker leave today, I thought of our family, half as large, different, not better or worse, but transitioning none the less. Whether single, married with or without kids, these life movements are real. Formation, as a favorite 2nd century Christian writer said, is not just our means, but God’s design for humanity, a continual shaping and reshaping, learning and unlearning, as we surrender into new seasons and likeness to God.

The two youngest, Abigail (8) and Claire (6.. and a half she will remind you!).

As we age, now grandparents, it’s definitely becoming more challenging to be so far away, oceans apart from our heritage. Most families struggle to see their kids go off to college, perhaps a city or maybe state away. They have the luxury of welcoming kids back at breaks, at Christmas, and major family events. I smile when I see friends still near their older kids. It does make me miss ours all the more. These are the sacrifices we feel, and feeling afresh as our kids leave and begin their journey, so far, each around 18.

It’s hard, we can feel the personal growth taking place in our own hearts as much as theirs as they step out and trust God, and themselves to navigate new territory. Tucker hasn’t ever checked into a hotel by himself, or ordered his own Uber in the US. He’ll do those things in the next 24hrs, and he’ll be fine. He’ll begin to discover more about himself – I pray that each of our kids sense the nearness of their God, the Father that is keenly aware of their situations.

Our kids do leave home, but a greater journey begins for each of them, as we’ve all experienced. Slowly, over time, we believers find our home in God. We find our wisdom and explore with the Spirit of God. This planet is filled with opportunities for hearing His voice, and being fed by His hands, leaning increasingly on His provision and less on our limited capacities. This brings me joy, and a certain motivation to pray for them all the more. Lord be with Tucker, be with all our kids out there navigating this complex world. Light us up as families that journey together, for one another.

Thinking of those families we know that have said goodbye to their kids on this of eternity. My heart goes out to those will have to wait a lot longer than 6 months or a few years to see their children. Life is truly a gift, undeserved, a grace we can see more clearly as we age. Now I need to go hug someone.

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