Someone might have told me, when I was 24 and preparing to bring my first baby home from the hospital, that I would never again be the same person. Someone might have told me that the momentous event of childbirth I had just experienced was minor in comparison to the joys, the tears, the fears, the pride, the struggles and the triumphs of the years ahead. But I don't think anyone told me that there was no end to parenthood; that I had just signed up for a job from which I would never retire. If someone had told me all of this, would I still have signed up? Yes! Without a doubt.
A parent's role just keeps changing. In the beginning we are the 24-7 caretakers. Then, before we know it, the child begins exercising some independence. And, if we do our job properly, eventually the child matures and steps out into the world prepared to take care of himself 24-7. Aaaah - NOW is it time to retire from parenthood? No way!
Now is the time to pray harder than ever before. Now is the time to be there. Just BE there. Now is the time to watch, with pride and with a bit of fear, the unfolding of a mature life that is, hopefully, stronger and wiser than we were at that age. Now is the time to listen and encourage. Now is the time to give advice ONLY when asked. Now is the time to thank God for the tremendous growth of the little seed of faith that we planted and watered for 18 years.
And now may be the time in life to learn from our children, to be encouraged by our children, and to rejoice in the realization that the world is a better place because our children are in it; to watch our children walk through trials with confidence and faith - more confidence and stronger faith than we had at their age - and come through them, by the grace of God, triumphant.