Working yourself out of a job


One of our favorite parental refrains is this one: “What’s our main job as your parents?”  The responses vary from a decent answer of:   “To love us” to a smart ass answer of: “To do XYZ for me.”   That’s because they know what’s coming next.  “Our main job as your parents is to work ourselves out of a job.” 

Really, it’s one of Brett’s favorite refrains.  Utensil usage is still well below 50%, so I’m not convinced.  I honestly don’t see myself retiring from my job as Table Manner Counselor until age 65.  I’m glad Brett is teaching them “How to Treat a Woman” because that will come in handy when they are blowing their nose in their napkin.

I kid the husband a little however, because that philosophy has been put to the test with this move.  With our 15 year old still back in Seattle, we are getting a preview into how well we have fared in working ourselves out a job.  A job we love, and one we’ve worked pretty hard at.  (Note: we’ve also realized that some projects are harder than others.)

It is with mixed emotions that I am able to report that I think we are ahead of schedule (at least in the areas that matter.)

It’s not when a 15 year old sends a picture of his perfect report card, or stats on his basketball game, but it’s when he sends regular texts like this one:  “Thanks Mom.  I really appreciate those kind words!! I love you too!!!” When at an age where it’s in style to be cool and evasive, he can still tell the people he loves that he loves them with 5 exclamation points. 

Several months ago, Quinn told me that he has three main things he tries to live by.  To go with the flow, that practice makes perfect, and to be kind to everybody.   I saw that to be true in his life then, but even more now at a distance.  He is open to everything and deeply content no matter his situation.  He hasn’t asked us to send or buy him anything, only to be available for a FaceTime chat.  He works hard – with or without us around – maybe even harder without us because his drive is within.   And I have a log of texts that echo his kindness to me -- the person in his life that it would be easiest to forget to be kind to.

As my six year old nuzzled into bed with me last night after a bad dream, I was reminded of how good it feels to be needed.   To be needed in that visceral, tangible way.  That a hug would not just protect, but also overcome, anything scary your child had to face.  There is still so much to fear even after you’re 15, but if you’ve established a pattern of trustworthiness with them and taught them that there is Someone even greater to trust --- then maybe they can feel their hair being stroked while on a FaceTime chat.