Independence x3

“And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there…”

No, I’m not talking about what Francis Scott Key wrote describing the Battle of Baltimore in 1812, I’m talking about last night, all over the USA, and particularly, where we were last night in Provo, Utah.

There was a spectacular fireworks show at the Stadium, but what I loved even more were the countless, mini firework shows all over the valley. Everywhere you looked there were “private” displays going off. From what I’ve seen, this is how it was in much of the country celebrated last night.

It was glorious, and much needed. The rockets red glare, and the bombs bursting in air DID give proof through the night that out flag IS still there. Out country is going through a rough patch right now, and, to me, every explosion that brightened the night sky was a reminder that there are people celebrating out great nation on it’s birthday, and all that represents.

For that I’m grateful.

I must admit that my emotions are running a little bit close to the surface. Yesterday was not only Independence Day for our country, it was also “independence day” for our youngest. We brought him to Provo to attend BYU in the fall. The day was spent getting needed supplies and unpacking to set up his first apartment.

He is excited to take this next big step in his life, and we are excited for him. And a little petrified. Now, this ain’t our first rodeo – this is our 3rd kid who has attended BYU and the 4th (out of 5) who has gone to school out of state, but this time brings a little more…apprehension.

In today’s heated social and political climate, and with the COVID-19 pandemic still messing up the world, it makes things a little more nervous. My son, fresh out of High School, isn’t marching off to war like my father did, but he faces a war nonetheless.

That said, you raise them the best you can, you cling to hope that they are grounded in the important aspects of life: Family, gospel, hard work, etc. And then we let go…with Joesph’s Smith’s reminder that we, “…teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” (link)

From the first to the fifth, I know we have done out best to instill values, testimony and work ethic in our kids. I have trust and faith that this one will make wise choices and follow the footsteps of his siblings, who are all examples of good people, good parents, and good spouses.

But that sure doesn’t mean that he’s not going to leave a huge hole in our home and our day-to-day lives. I’m already struggling with it.

Which leaves Chrissie and me to enter a new phase of life: Empty-nesters. Yes, we declared our “independence” yesterday as well.

We’ve been at this parenting thing for over 32 years, That’s a long time. It feels like a long time. For 32 years we have had anywhere between one and five kids under out roof that have been the primary and priority focus of our lives. Every. Day.

And I am driving home today to an empty house. Weird.

Yes, being grandparents is a legit joy, and we will still be immersed in our kid’s lives, but it is different after they venture out on their own. If anything, it is more worrisome, because the world they now move in is no longer the world we move in. Their decisions are theirs, their associations are theirs, and their choices and the associated consequences are theirs to own.

Granted, those things are the same as when they lived under our roof, but now we don’t see and participate in much of what they experience, and now lack as much opportunity to give, or even leverage, direction.

Again, trust and faith, right?

Oh, but there are plenty of upsides to the empty-nester thing, which I’m sure I will soon enjoy, but right now, I am just an old softie sitting on my daughter’s couch typing through tears….

Thank God for agency, independence, families, and the United States of America.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

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  1. I remember dropping off my oldest at BYU over 30 years ago. I cried like a baby. The last one didn’t leave town but I had to tell him it was time to find his own apartment – no tears then.

  2. I’ll bet every parent, all the way back to Adam and Eve, has said the same thing, “The world our children are living in is different from the one we lived in.” And we’d all be right!! Each generation seems to face greater wickedness, greater temptation, etc. And it’s certainly true today. But, on the plus side, we have the fulness of the Gospel, priesthood power and authority, temples, scriptures, massive church resources, etc. to bless our lives. We live in exciting times when I believe we will see absolute miracles.

    And it is weird to be empty nesters, for a few days, then the benefits show themselves and you find that it’s a great phase of life! (Then somebody needs help and moves home, sigh.)

  3. You are right, Brad, that if anything the parenting is now more worrisome once they leave our nest. I remember probably 25 years ago when I was talking to an older woman {probably mid-70″) as we were walking around a pond, and I said it must be a relief when she didn’t have to worry about her children any longer. She told me that it never stops, and that she had a 50 year old son about whom she was very worried right then. It wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear at the time, but life has shown me the wisdom of her words.

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