Relationships are complicated, and interesting all the same. It seems when interacting with others, we dance between periods of dependence [I need you] and independence [I need to do this myself, so step away]. Of course, our ultimate goal is one of interdependence [I can do this myself, but would like to work with you]. In my opinion, the dependent-independent dance is most readily observed in toddlers and teens, though the latter can struggle to find a good balance well into the 20-something years.

This past week, our family had our annual vacation in Galveston. The weather was beautiful, but we did have one short, torrential rainfall. While walking on the beach afterwards, we came across a turtle [I immediately named Bubba]. He appeared to be confused, wandering up and down the beach, into the water, then out. After consulting with my son, the fish expert, I learned Bubba was not a salt-water turtle, and thus, was lost. We smiled knowing this little independent turtle probably had quite a journey to the beach during the storm. Of course, Matthieu relocated him back to the canal behind our rental home.

Bubba reminded me how differently each of my children are handling their own journey towards interdependence at this stage in their lives. Matthieu told me in the fall that aside from short summer stays, he would probably not live at home again. Though a bit unsure, I’m thinking Micah can’t wait to leave for college. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Marc Daniel is very emphatic in letting us know he has no plans to ever leave home, or his bedroom for that matter. And then there is Max, who equally declares his need for independence and child-like dependence, all in the same breath.

As a parent, I love watching my children on their journey, but I have to continually fight my urge to intervene and control outcomes. I justify my interference by telling myself, “they need me,” when in reality I am sure what they need is for me to be present, with less direct interference. The journey may be rough, but if we have a healthy relationship with our children, based on trust, they will let us know one way or another when they need our support. Or at least that is the wisdom afforded to me by a little lost turtle named Bubba.