Well, things around our home have certainly been in flux since my two older sons left this past winter to explore the world as young adults. Ryan, 21, left for a 3 month missionary trip to the central American country of Costa Rica. Two months later his younger brother Taylor, 19, left to meet Ryan and their mentor in faith Carlos with the hopes of traveling into Spain and Morocco for a 3-4 month exploratory trip into the North African nation.
In March, Ryan came home to Sparks, a young man determined to challenge himself in ways that would strengthen his weaknesses and his relationships within our family and create new ones. As a dad, it was so encouraging to see my first born with new-found resolve and confidence gained from the experience of being away from home and in a foreign country for an extended period of time. Ryan is such a pleasure to have at home as he is helping without being asked, and appreciates what he has more than he ever has before.
Two weeks later we knew that Taylor and Carlos arrived in Paris when we received a text message with a photo of Taylor in front of the Eiffel Tower- wow, he really was away from home! From Paris to Spain, then on to the straights of Gibraltar for their short hop into Morocco… or so they thought, until the popular uprisings in the Middle East suddenly changed everything.
To his mom and dad’s relief Taylor and Carlos were not able to gain visas to enter Morocco because of the political turmoil. So they ended up spending time with families and individuals in southern Spain, Paris, Switzerland, and even Scandinavia. What an adventure for Taylor, but also for his mother and me as we were suddenly forced to let go and let life happen to our son without our oversight and control. That was especially difficult for my wife Lesley as she and Taylor had become very close during the last several years as Taylor worked his way through his teen years and high school.
A month later, Taylor returned from his adventure in Europe a very changed young man. We saw him for the first time in nearly 4 months when we picked him up from the Sacramento airport in California. He’s just spent 18 hours flying from Paris to the United States and then West to California, and while he looked tired, Taylor also looked about two inches taller and 20 pounds stronger, he had a calm confidence born of international travel and independence- suddenly he was an adult.
What a blessing it has been having our two adult sons back home for a short time but very much changed young men with a vision for their future and the confidence to take-on the challenges to make their vision realities. Somehow Lesley and I must now back-off and watch our sons start to make decisions like where they want to live, where they plan to go to college, and what to do for the next stage in their lives. These are their decisions, and all we can do is encourage and offer guidance when asked- just like when they were away, Ryan and Taylor will reach out to us when they are ready and they will share with us on their own terms from now on.
It’s time to focus on our 16 year old Dylan, and maintain the effort to spend time with each other so that when the time comes- very soon- to let Dylan go, we are not left strangers in our own home.