I just dropped my son off for summer camp, and I can’t help but contrast this morning’s experience with a similar one, a decade ago, when I dropped my daughter off for camp. A decade ago, I stayed up all night labeling underwear and adding snacks to plastic storage baggies and ticking off every box on the camp preparation list.
A decade ago, I checked and triple checked the weather, to make sure she had everything she could possibly need for every possible situation.
A decade ago, I cried.
Yesterday, I asked my son, “You ready for camp?”
This morning, I dropped him off in the church parking lot, drove home to a quiet house, put my feet on the coffee table, and smiled.
What a difference ten years can make.
Granted, a decade ago, my oldest was 12. Today, my youngest is 17. But it’s more than their ages. I’ve changed. I’ve mellowed. Ten years has brought more serenity, less stress. More stillness, less strain.
Less pressure to be the perfect mom, wife, friend.
Others have said this countless times, but I’ll join the chorus: I wish I’d known then what I know now. But I didn’t.
I wish I could re-live twenty with the wisdom of fifty, but it doesn’t work that way.
I learned. I grew. And I guess that’s the important thing, isn’t it?
I’ve heard that wisdom learns from others’ mistakes, intelligence learns from one’s own mistakes, and a fool never learns. Kudos to me for being marginally intelligent—I may be slow, but I’m not stupid—but here’s the thing. I want to be wise.
I want to learn before my mistakes, not from them. And I can! God says He’ll give wisdom freely to anyone who asks and is willing to receive it.
So I sit here, feet on the coffee table, praying that my children will be wiser than I was. Praying that I will be wiser than I am. Praying that the lessons I’ve absorbed in this life will stick, and I won’t have to re-learn them.
Lessons like measuring my coffee creamer instead of just pouring it straight out of the carton—that stuff adds a lot of calories! Or like using the expensive gas in my car because it gets better mileage and costs less in the long run.
Lessons like closing the door to my kids’ bedrooms instead of freaking out over the mess. Or like taking naps every chance I get.
Lessons like being grateful for what I have instead of longing for what’s just out of reach.
Or like trusting God’s goodness and love, knowing that no matter the beginning of a thing, He has the end.
Here I am in a quiet house, older, wiser, and with a week’s vacation from parenting. How will I use this time?
I’ll probably start with a creamy cup of coffee. Then I’ll take a nap.
Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.