Timothy, my youngest child, turned 18 this past week. On his actual birthday we couldn’t get many to come over due to other commitments. Claire joined us after work and we shared some pizza from a new restaurant down the street. Last night (Friday night) Claire, Luke, Abby, and Ryan all came over. We celebrated with a drive to south Nashua for dinner at our favorite local Mediterranean restaurant, Maza.
At my day job designing new generations of the flagship GPUs, every design effort always has a variety of milestones and metrics. Of course the ultimate goal is to ship a good product that will be significantly better than the last generation and make the company and its stakeholders good money. But along the way we have other intermediate points towards getting to the shipping product. For example:
- It renders a simple triangle
- It seems to implement all of the legacy features and the newly planned ones.
- The verification team has “thrown everything at it” and can’t find an issue.
It should surprise no one that there are hundreds of lesser milestones along the way to a “ship it”-ready design.
In Michelle’s final year when we knew her days were numbered, my heart was filled with multiple anxieties. Certainly I loved her dearly and we tried the available avenues to conquer the cancer. I had to come to grips with the reality that I’d spent roughly half of my life loving her, the life and family we’d built together, and soon she would be gone. It would be like cutting off a major limb.
The other anxiety I had was getting along without her. I’d never paid the bills. I couldn’t cook to save my life. Lastly I would be the sole Head of Household to five (gulp) pre-teens and teens.
In short order I automated more bill paying. I still review the expenditures, but unlike Michelle, I’m not writing a bunch of checks, stamping up envelopes, and making sure everything balances to the last cent.
Regarding cooking I got some early advice from Claire, but watched a lot of cooking videos, cooking blogs, etc. to get ideas. I got over Michelle’s reluctance to buy herbs and spices. That was probably a level of frugality too far. I tried out new dishes regularly to expand my skills. I bought some appliances and accessories to help make things easier. From little things – like parchment paper, crockpot liners, and a Thermapen – to bigger things like a rice cooker, a quality coffee maker and grinder, an Instant Pot, a “Griddler” griddle/panini press, and a “smart” oven.
But the kids … the five kids … in the age range when they are transitioning to adulthood. Without Michelle’s help. Luckily in my town there were plenty of more experienced, older parents I started to have breakfast with almost daily. Their kids were all grown. I could talk with them and ask about experiences with their own.
This past week I’d mentioned to some of my peers that my youngest was turning 18 and I’d have no more minors in the house. To most it just seemed like I was referring to some arbitrary legal definition of no consequence. In day-to-day reality it certainly doesn’t mean my responsibilities have changed much.
It’s much like most of our birthdays have no real change in our lives. In several more months my Dad will turn 80. The week beforehand he’ll still be the same great person he will be the week after. Nevertheless we will certainly consider it a major milestone for him.
So now, at least legally, they are all adults. They’re responsible for their own actions, able to have a voice in elections, capable of being independent when they are ready. I will still worry about them. I will still do what I can to support them while nudging them towards more independence. And I will always encourage them to become the person that God created them to be.