My older daughter is at camp this week with our church's middle school group. She's gone for five days with no phone. Our only contact with her is pictures that her leaders are posting on Instagram. She looks like she's having a blast.
Both girls were gone a couple of weeks ago for a week with my parents. Honestly, I didn't find myself missing the girls too much then. I really needed the break.
But this week, I find myself really missing my older daughter. With just the three of us at home, it's like a piece of us is missing. As my girls get older, we see less of them. Between school, practice and church, we have to make an effort to have family time. But even when we don't see a lot of each other, our family dynamics are designed around four people. When one of the girls is gone, it changes the dynamics.
I love the one-on-one time I'm getting with my younger daughter. We're getting all her school shopping done and heading out to see a movie today. But this week without my older daughter reminds me that we have limited time left with her. She's headed into eighth grade this year, which means we really only have five years left with her at home.
As I ponder those five years, I realize there's so much I still want to teach her. There's so much love I still want to shower her with. There are so many conversations I still want to have. As happy as I am that she's growing into a healthy, happy young lady, I find myself wishing for just a little more time for her to be little.
When you bring your kids home from the hospital, 18 years looks like a really long time. And then you blink and she's 13. Blink again and she's heading off to college. One more blink and she's married with kids of her own.
Although sometimes the days are long, time in general seems to fly. I wouldn't stop it for the world. Every age and stage brings new adventures.
But as we face these last five years with my daughter at home, I'm reminded that I need to be as intentional with my time with my girls now as I was when they were little. When they were younger, we were intentional about creating a solid foundation of faith and love for them. Now, as they're getting older, I find we need to be intentional in teaching them how to work through problems on their own. We have to be intentional about teaching them to recognize potentially dangerous situations. We need to offer fewer rules and more guidance. And we have to be intentional about letting them make their own mistakes.
Our need to be intentional in the way we parent our kids doesn't end when they hit the teenage years, but the things we need to be intentional about do. As our kids get older, they still need our wisdom and love. They just need it in different ways.
So, when my daughter gets back from camp and our family dynamics shift back to the way they are designed, I'm going to use this reminder of the time we have left with her to prompt me to ask God to help me remember to be intentional in the way I parent both my girls.
Where do you need to refocus your efforts to be intentional in being intentional in the way you parent your kids?