Celebrating Dependence Day

dependenceHappy 3rd of July!

Does that make it Pre-Independence Day?

I wonder what the members of the Continental Congress were doing on July 3, 1776. They certainly weren’t picking up a jumbo pack of sparklers at the local fireworks stand, putting the final touches on a parade float, or marinating steaks for a BBQ. They were likely lying awake in bed in a cold sweat contemplating the reality they were about to commit treason.

Actually, July 2nd was the day the resolution of independence was officially approved, but the Declaration of Independence was signed and dated July 4th, which is why it became the designated holiday, though there’s debate the document was signed a month later. Whatever the official day, one day we were dependent upon a parent country, and the next day we declared independence and accepted all the responsibilities that came with it.

Independence is good.

It’s the natural evolution of maturity, but it isn’t easy.

We’ve been having some pre-independence crises in our family this summer. With a daughter about to get married and another daughter about to head off to college, they’re battling the conflicting emotions of excitement and fear about transitioning into adulthood. They want to, they know it’s time, they know I’ll eventually kick them out on their rears anyway, but they’re also clinging to the remnants of childhood while they can.

They want to do all our traditional family activities, visit our family haunts, and let their parents pick up the tab for everything. I get it, I sucker into it and pay for it because I remember well an occasion that marked a distinct independent passage for me.

A week after our wedding, my new hubby and I were in his hometown for an open house. We were at his parents’ house afterward changing clothes when my guy was summoned back to the church to help clean up. I stayed to see my family off since it was a bit of a drive home. We exchanged hugs and well wishes, then I watched as my parents took their place in the front seats of the minivan and my two younger siblings snuggled up in the backseat to sleep. As they drove away, the weight of the responsibility I’d just taken on suddenly hit me.

I was no longer a kid who could climb in the backseat and drift off carefree while my parents took the wheel.

I burst into tears.

My sweetie returned to find his new bride in a heap and puddle of hysterics on the floor. I told him I was really happy we’d gotten married. He struggled to believe me, but I tried to explain that I was just having growing pains. It was “Independence Day.” We’d moved from the carefree dependent security of the backseat to the front as heads of our own independent little family.

I did stop crying eventually and we started our life together, which will include a trip in the minivan tomorrow for some holiday family fun. While I sit up front and brunt responsibility, my dependents will snuggle up in the backseat and just enjoy the ride. And for one last Independence Day, for one last summer, I’m content to let them.

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