Jen Gienapp: Letting A Sparrow Go

Thursday, August 29, 2013 - by Jen Gienapp
Jen Gienapp
Jen Gienapp

We just got home, from taking our second kiddo to college. I thought it’d be easier, having been through it once before, but I think it just gets harder.

I once had a wise cousin tell me that she really preferred the teen years to the baby years. As a young mom, I doubted her, but her words always stuck with me. Now, as an older mom, I see her wisdom, and I’ve decided I love the teenage years the best. But with that, comes heartache.

I enjoyed the early years with my five children, and to this day, I love to hold a baby or a toddler, even change a diaper, or try to give a new mom a break, in trying to rock a baby to sleep. On occasion, I really miss those days.

But there’s really not anything like having teenagers.  I’ve decided that only death or a horrible accident could be harder than sending one’s kids to college. This really might be the toughest part of parenting.  Of course, I haven’t gone through marriage for them, then new jobs, disappointments and betrayals, and grandbabies, but for now, this is my angst.

The thing is, after you spend those first 15 years of parenting, through diapers, keeping them alive, pulling teeth, carpooling, videotaping, attending multitudes of games, shows, parent/teacher conferences, etc., all of a sudden, they turn into your friends. I’m not usually one to advocate the whole “parents should be friends to their kids” thing, but in a way, I am. By the time they get to be late teenagers, they ARE your friends, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.

We have enjoyed, by the grace of God, a good relationship with our oldest teens. I don’t take that for granted, as I know many parents don’t have that with theirs. But ours are funny, smart, talented, and sarcastic (they got that from their dad). That’s what makes it so hard to leave them. I want to be around them all the time. But at the same time, I want to let them go, and see what they’ll do as adults. There’s no way I would begrudge them that.

I do get sad, when I go into my daughter’s room, seeing what she left behind. The simplest things make me tear up. On the other hand, I’m waiting anxiously to hear about her fall class schedule. I’m happy I won’t have to wait up for her, when she’s driving home from ballet, late at night in Wyoming. But now I also worry about her driving in more intense traffic, and a multitude of other things. When I hugged my eldest, already gone for a couple years, goodbye, and heard him say, “love ya, mom,” my eyes welled – and he’s almost 20! I’ve been told the worry never goes away, no matter how old they get. But another cousin recently said to me, “Don’t worry, Jen. We’re all in God’s hands.” What a simple truth, that needs to become my daily mantra.

There are still kids’ transmissions to be fixed, tuition to be paid, books to be bought, and the late night phone conversations about college relationships or intern possibilities. At the same time, I have littles who need help with homework, and I have soccer practices and games to attend. It’s such an ongoing crazy life. Too soon, I know, it will be over.

But in the Bible, Matthew and Luke say, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” I know that God’s eye is on the sparrow, and I’m trusting in that for my children, both here and 2,300 miles away.

(Jen Gienapp and her husband, Andy, made the move from Chattanooga to Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2011. She can be reached at emmegab@gmail.com)


Be A Mentor And Take 12 Info Event Set For April 9

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, TVA, the Want To Foundation, Brainerd High School and the Baylor School are looking for Chattanoogans who are willing to  “Be and Mentor and Take 12.” There are 8,736 hours in a calendar year and this program is about taking 12 of those, one a month, to mentor a Chattanooga student.    The organizers of “Be a Mentor ... (click for more)

Playcore Begins Construction On New Collegedale Playground

Playcore, the Chattanooga-based contractor for the new playground at Collegdale has begun construction. The 7,000-square-foot, handicapped-accessible, ultra modern playground should be finished in mid-June, weather permitting. (click for more)

Tennessee Broadband Expansion Bill Sought By EPB Put On Hold For Now

Advocates for broadband expansion in Tennessee, including Chattanooga's EPB, announced Tuesday that efforts to extend community-based fiber optic networks are being placed on hold for now "because there is not enough support among state lawmakers to change a state regulation that prevents the expansion of municipal fiber optic systems." EPB earlier won a ruling from the Federal ... (click for more)

Haslam Adds K-12 Funds In Budget Amendment

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Tuesday unveiled additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks, including added funding for K-12. The governor last week met with school superintendents from the largest systems in the state over the issue of state funding for K-12. The next day, the Hamilton County Schools joined ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Goodbye, Dr. Nassour

About 51 years ago, right after Jim Creel had graduated from the University of Texas and was in Guadalajara for medical school, he was surprised to find a complete stranger sitting on his battered and dusty Volkswagen. “He had seen my Longhorns sticker and was thrilled to find somebody else in Mexico who loved the University of Texas. “That’s when our friendship started and it ... (click for more)