Growing Up

2016 is a year of firsts for my oldest son.

Thus far, Joseph has made his First Confession and in just under 2 months will make his First Holy Communion. Today is another first, his first soccer game on his first ever sports team. (We missed the first practice on Thursday night because the governing body decided Wednesday night to move the start week up by one week surprising both the club and the coaches and it was way too last minute for us.) Last night, Jeff took him to Dick’s to buy his first shorts, socks, cleats and shin guards…

When we moved we could not have anticipated the changes in our kids. While the move has not always been smooth and has presented us with some very unexpected challenges, over all it has been good. Joseph has fared probably the best of all of us. He was always smart and did well in school but we’ve seen him blossom academically. He also has developed socially as well in ways we did not anticipate as he is incredibly savvy for his age. We’ve tried for the last two years to get him into soccer but the league where we lived previously was very poorly organized and run. Despite a rough jump start, we’ve been impressed with our current club.

I really didn’t realize until this last week how much my son needed this move. Don’t get me wrong, he loved his old school and misses his old friends, but he needed to grow and mature in a way that our old community was just not conducive to. He needed to plant roots in fertile soil that we were only able to halfway provide in our old community through our home and parish. It was unthinkable where we used to live that it even be suggested that kids visit the woefully inadequate public library or even go into the school library except with their class. Here, he is encouraged to do both. Here he is encouraged to take responsibility for his education and his choices both inside and outside of school. He has the freedom to be held accountable and it has become apparent since our move just how stifled he was and just how much he chafed under the restrictions of where we lived before.

It’s not all sunshine and roses. I guess a better description is that sometimes the sun can burn and roses have thorns. He’s had his share of struggles in navigating this new uncharted territory. That’s good. It’s healthy. And the fact that he’s experienced the negative effects of his choices at a young age will help him immeasurably in the future. In some ways I feel guilty that he did not get this earlier in his life, but such was God’s plan and so I know that guilt is unfounded.

A blessing of parenthood is getting to watch these children that God has entrusted to us grow and blossom into the person He created them to be. This last year has given me a small taste of how beautiful that can be.