Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the cool, crisp days and the beautiful color that takes over the trees. I particularly love the bright orange leaves of the Maple tree. One tree in my neighborhood caught my attention this year. As I noticed the leaves starting to change on a few trees, I saw that this tree only had a few leaves that had changed. I glanced up at this same tree each day as I traveled in and out of my neighborhood. Every few days, I saw that a few additional leaves had turned to a beautiful orange, slowly covering the tree with color.
Over the course of several weeks, the most vibrant color of orange completely emblazoned this tree. I thought to myself how this tree and the time it took to change color was a metaphor for children. One day you start noticing small changes in their maturity or the way they approach or handle a situation. You might also notice a few small changes in their appearance and voice. Little by little, they grow and change. Most of these changes aren’t apparent on a daily basis. Then, one day you wake up and realize that your children have grown and matured, and are taking on a whole new sense of self. It is as if you can more clearly begin to see the adult they are becoming.
The hard part for parents, especially this one, is releasing the image of the little child and embracing the maturing adolescent. Children do grow up so fast, and with that comes the inevitable steps of gradually letting go and allowing them to blossom into the people they are meant to be.
As they grow up, they don’t need us as much, at least not in the same way. They don’t need us to bathe them, feed them, and get them dressed. They can keep track of their school work and help around the house. What they need more now is a mentor, guide, and example for how to be a responsible adult.
Now, as I wipe away a few tears, it is time to embrace this new stage of parenthood and enjoy the scenery as the leaves continue to change. I know that one day I will look up, full of pride, and see that my trees have completely changed and are incredibly gorgeous and completely full of vibrant color.