I woke up a few weeks ago feeling like I was having a panic attack. Something bad is happening in my life right now, I mean really bad. Our baby girl, the seventeen year old that lives at our house, the last of our four kids is graduating next month. Kind of like each time Jennifer got pregnant I am wondering how did this happen?

It seems like her entire life is reaching its pinnacle … at least the first 18 years or so … her public school career is over, now what? Not only now what for her but now what for her parents.

Even in mid-April there are so many unanswered questions. She has been accepted to several schools but we are still chasing the money train, waiting to see which school it leads to … college, car, computer … this makes dropping a hundred bucks on school supplies every August for the last 13 years seem like car change.

Jennifer was filling out some paperwork for the high school the other day, you know the kind her and every mother fills out for field trip type events. Jennifer looked up and said, “This is probably the last time I do this.” :-(

We went on our last prom dress shopping trip … actually it was my first and last, but still — last prom dress … last prom. No more waiting up, no more scheduling our lives around her life, her schedule that is dictated by the school, by band, by drill team, by the tennis team (district champs, btw), by NHS, by AVID tutoring, college courses, blah, blah, blah … I’m wondering who is going to run our lives once she is gone?

I think I have shared that we got married in December and had our first child in November — so we have had kids forever. The honeymoon was over after 11 months … and now 32 years later the hard work of parenting is over. Maybe now I will start to understand grandparenting better … while I like my grandkids I’m still a little unsure of what to do with them because we have been busy raising our own family … that is up until now.

All of the sudden I’m not complaining about the braces we have paid for … the private flute lessons. I guess I’m naive. When we lived on N. Rogers Street the house next door was painted pink and this little girl would say she was going to grow up, get married and move into that pink house. I believed her … finally one of our kids was going to love us forever (just kidding, but when they grow up the expression of that love changes, right?)

Psalm 127:5 says you are blessed if your quiver is full.

What if the last arrow in your quiver graduates and goes off to college?

I am sad and happy all at the same time. I’m not sure where the tears of joy and sadness start and stop. I know all of this growing up stuff is normal because I have been through it three other times but when it’s your last time it feels very final.

Signed,

Sad Dad

Ken Ansell serves as a pastor in a small central Texas rural community. He is a local missionary and he fly fishes when he can.