Helping Jared get ready.
Jared with several of his friends.
Jared and his best friend Tiana.
I still shake my head in disbelief that I have a child who's graduated. I still don't get that he'll be 18 in 2 weeks and I certainly am not ready for him to face the big bad world without me to protect him. But the reality is this-this time was always coming from the day I gave birth to him.
Jared may not have been born under the greatest of circumstances but he couldn't have been born into a more loving environment. I was only 20 years old and single. His "father" had really never been in the picture from the time I found out I was pregnant and I realized quickly I was on my own. Although my parents stepped in and picked up the slack there is nothing quite like being a couple in a situation like that.
I wasn't serving the Lord during that time of my life however towards the end of my pregnancy I began reading my bible a little bit starting with Genesis. Playing the name game alone isn't very much fun but my mom loved it and we tossed around all kinds of names for him like Aaron, James, Shelby, (I didn't know he was a boy), John, but then one evening as I sat reading my bible the name Jared just popped out at me and I knew that was what I was supposed to name him. In the bible, Jared was Enoch's father and Enoch was one who walked so closely with God and never tasted death. He simply wasn't there anymore. I loved that.
As long as I live I'll never forget his birthday. I went into labor at 3 in the afternoon. Nothing much really, more uncomfortable than anything else and when they admitted me at 6pm there was still not much going on and I started to think they might send me home. I remember being all alone hoping my mom would hurry up and get there and without warning I went into full blown labor with contractions coming every couple of minutes and they started to take me upstairs. I was terrified because I was by myself.
But then right as they were wheeling me into the elevator my mom was there.
It wasn't easy, not that its supposed to be but here's something funny. At about 10pm right in the thick of it my mom says "You know I'm not superstitious but it is Friday the 13th, maybe you could wait a couple of hours."
I was like "Are you kidding me? I don't care what the date is, he needs to get here!!"
So, fast forward 2 hours and she actually turns to me and says "OK, its 12:01, anytime you're ready to have that kid."
Of course at the time it was too intense to fully appreciate just how funny that was but shortly after and all these years later I still laugh about it.
There he was laying in his little bassinet and all I could do was look. All I could do was wonder how on earth could I possibly love someone so much I had just met. I was full to over flowing. It took my breath away.
And less than 2 years later God, in His amazingness provided a daddy for Jared and a husband for me. I never could have imagined in all I had done, in all the terrible ways I had lived that I would be worthy of such a precious gift. Thank God its never something we have to earn. I didn't deserve it but He gave it to me anyway. Brian was immediately wonderful with Jared, as if he had been there from the beginning. The first time I heard Jared call Brian "daddy" I thought my heart would explode. To this day I am always overcome with emotion as I recall how God had His hand in it all even though I couldn't have been farther from Him.
This is why I am such an advocate for being a praying parent. I know I was covered as a result of my mom's obedience to pray for her children.
It hasn't always been like that since then. There have been good times and bad times. But they are always overcome because we love like a family is supposed to love. Unconditionally.
The emotion surrounding these last few weeks has been, at times overwhelming as its forced me to recall all we've been through since Jared was born. I've had moments where I simply couldn't breathe when I think how this chapter is ending and a new one is beginning and in no time at all he won't even be living in my house. I won't be there to protect him when he gets hurt. But I also realized all this time I've been preparing him for exactly this. That has been my role these past 18 years. It doesn't mean I don't get to parent him anymore, it just means I might be doing it a little more silently.
It's Jared's time and I have to let go. It's time for him to fly away on his own and I have to take comfort knowing I did the best I could and with God's grace and mercy he will be OK.