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)



CARTA Announces Memorial Day Schedules

In observance of Memorial Day, CARTA’s fixed route, Downtown Shuttle and North Shore Shuttle bus services will operate on Saturday schedules on Monday, May 28. The CARTA Care-a-van will also be operating on a holiday schedule.  Additional information on CARTA’s routes, schedules and services may be obtained by calling the CARTA Information Line at (423) 629-1473, TDD users ... (click for more)

Gloves Up For Grayson Boxing Event Raises Funds For Rare Disease Treatment Research

Local nonprofit Grayson’s Ladder invites friends and neighbors in Chattanooga and surrounding communities to attend Gloves Up for Grayson, a boxing event at the Chattanooga Convention Center on June 2 benefiting Grayson’s Ladder. Doors open at 6 p.m. Boxing starts at 7 p.m.  The family-friendly event, presented by SunTrust Private Wealth and hosted by YMCA YCAP and Southpaw ... (click for more)

Witnesses Say Donaldson Was Calm After Killing Son-In-Law - "I'm Just Sitting Here Waiting For The Law"

Witnesses said Glen Allen Donaldson was calm after killing his son-in-law on Dec. 29, 2016, saying, "I'm just sitting here waiting for the law." Donaldson, 57, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 39-year-old Adam Levi. The jury in the courtroom of Judge Don Poole was told that Donaldson left the residence on Niles Terrace where Levi was living and drove ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Who Served Time For Attempted Murder Now Facing Armed Robbery Charge

A Chattanooga man who earlier served time for an attempted first-degree murder is now facing an armed robbery count. Garion Devilliar Lewis Jr., 33, is charged with aggravated robbery as well as drug and gun counts. In an incident on May 9, a man who no longer lives in Chattanooga said he was leaving his mother's residence on Sholar Avenue when he saw a man he knows across ... (click for more)

Refuting Racism

In an opinion piece, 5/18/18, Rev. Josh Woodrow referred to me and my fellow School Board member, Joe Smith, as racists and white supremacists because we spoke out against busing. I have never met or spoken with Rev. Woodrow so he knows nothing about me. The reverend obviously knows nothing about Joe Smith either. Seems one of the reverend’s hobbies is “brewing beer”. Maybe, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Please Don’t Get Numb

Several weeks ago we woke up to learn there had been another shooting in Chattanooga and the next day there were two paragraphs on the fourth page of the newspaper.  It has become so common we as a society have grown numb to it and, when a teen-aged girl in Texas said she wasn’t surprised last week when eight students and two teachers were massacred in her school some 30 miles ... (click for more)