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)


First Exhibition Of Latin American Traditional Costumes And Objects

The Coalition of Latino Leaders, with the support of The Bandy Heritage Center will host an Opening Reception to launch the First Exhibition of Latin American Traditional Costumes and Objects, as part of the Latino Culture Festival.  The Exhibition will be open to the public from Oct. 27 through Nov 12 at The Bandy Heritage Center at Dalton State College, located at Dalton ... (click for more)

Young Marines Third Division Wins Department of Defense Award For Anti-Drug Program

Division Three of the Young Marines youth organization’s Drug Demand Reduction Program , which includes the South East Tennessee Area Unit in Chattanooga, is the winner of the 2014 Annual Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Education from the Department of Defense.  Defense Department personnel presented the award to Division Three Commander, Sergeant ... (click for more)

Man Shot At Apartments On Tunnel Boulevard Wednesday Afternoon, Then 2 Juveniles Shot At Rec Center On Oakwood Drive With Suspects In Custody

Chattanooga police officers responded to the apartment buildings at 404 Tunnel Blvd. Wednesday at 1:21 p.m., where residents say they heard multiple shots fired.  Witnesses said they saw multiple suspects fleeing the scene on foot behind the complex.  The male victim was taken to a local hospital for life threatening gunshot wounds.  Later Wednesday, ... (click for more)

Several Arrested Outside Erlanger Hospital When Crowd Gathers After Woodlawn Shooting

Several people were arrested Monday night outside Erlanger Hospital after a crowd gathered and clashed with police. The crowd included family and friends of 20-year-old Apprentice Berry, who was shot multiple times and killed earlier Monday night at the Woodlawn Apartments on Wilson Street. Erlanger officials said the group gathered at the emergency room, but were later moved ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill - And Response

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Policeman’s Prayer

Every year, when the Law Enforcement Foundation of Greater Chattanooga holds its annual luncheon, it is one of the most heartening displays of what America really believes, down deep inside. The most prominent and influential leaders in the community – well over 1,000 -- gather to pay tribute and pledge their support to our heroes in blue who are unfaltering in their devotion, service ... (click for more)