and on earth, peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Welcome to my musings...
Sunday, December 2, 2012
and on earth, peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Thursday, April 12, 2012
I can no longer pretend it isn’t happening. No more burying my head in the sand, pretending not to see what is looming on the horizon. Thirty-six days. That’s all that remain…thirty-six days until it happens. The very thought of it makes my throat close up, my heart ache and my eyes well up with tears. What is it, you ask? No, it’s not the end of the world, or the loss of a loved one or a catastrophic event. It is simply the graduation of my first-born. “Oh, is that all?” you laugh. Yes, that is all, but so much more. I had no idea it would be so hard for me to enter this season of letting go. I find I’m so much better at the holding on. Last fall, when my oldest daughter began her senior year, I found myself tearing up very easily, and very often. At one point, eating dinner out alone with her, we began talking about graduation. Molly looked at me and very sympathetically said, “Are you going to cry again, Mom?” My answer…tears. Yes, I guess I am.
As her senior year progressed and we went through the usual progression of college mail, senior pictures and discussions of her future, I managed to live mostly in denial. Whenever we began to discuss what her homeschool graduation ceremony would look like, I would manage to put off that discussion for another time. When we discussed college, and scholarships and majors, I managed to think about it unemotionally, as if it were about someone other than my own daughter. I even made it through our first campus visit with enthusiasm and a sense of nostalgia for my own college days. I designed graduation announcements and made a list of recipients, discussed travel plans with family members and even began to plan the ceremony itself.
But lurking somewhere under the surface were unwelcome thoughts about the “lasts” we were experiencing with this child. Our special family trip to Hawaii last November had a shadow of “last” about it. Would this be the last time we traveled to our favorite place as a family of five? Would our next family trip (a much beloved tradition) be as a family of four? How many more Christmases would be celebrated with all our children around our tree? As I filled out my planner for homeschool, I realized that next year there would only be two columns, instead of three. As I began to research curricula for next year, I was searching for one-third less material. And finally, as I could put it off no longer, we began to fill out graduation announcements and order cake and plan the ceremony. And I began to let myself grieve.
As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel room in Houston. My husband graciously brought me along on his business trip to give me a few days of rest. I am comfortably ensconced in a lovely hotel room with a giant desk to work on and a picture window with a view of the woods. The day is grey and drizzly and it matches my feelings as I write, uninterrupted, sorting through the feelings I have so successfully squelched for the last few months. And I ponder…why am I grieving so fiercely? It’s not like anything that major will change. Molly will be attending a local university and living at home. I’m not losing her, not having to bear leaving her at a strange place and not seeing her for months at a time. So, why is my heart so sad?
I think it is this: I see it as the beginning of the end of something beautiful. I have loved being a mother more than words can say. From the moment I first heard those long-awaited words “you’re pregnant”, I have thrived as a mother. I love being with my children, I love teaching my children, I love sharing their hearts and their lives and their dreams. I love teaching about motherhood, and writing about motherhood, and encouraging other mothers on their journey. When Molly graduates, it means the others aren’t far behind, that someday, I will be finished. My children will be grown, and there will be no do-overs. I won’t get another chance to fix the things I did wrong, to re-live the chances I missed, or to relish the moments I overlooked. For better or worse, my job will be done. And oh, how that grieves my heart.
And yet, I know that this is the point. This is why I missed all those nights of sleep, why I dried so many tears and bandaged so many knees and cheered so many successes. To raise children who love God and follow Him was the goal all along. And as I watch these precious little souls blossom into adulthood with a faith that will sustain them all the days of their lives, I smile. And in the whispers of the silence, I hear a blessing from my Father, graciously saying “Well done.” And in the midst of my grieving, I am comforted. So, while I will undoubtedly shed a few more tears before we’re done, I will also rejoice as I watch my first-born begin her adult journey, knowing that God has good plans for her future, and for mine. So, for now, I will try to enjoy every single one of those thirty-six days, and not waste a single moment.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I remember when, as a young mother, older women would repeatedly say, “Enjoy every moment…it goes so fast.” And inside, I would think, “Really? Because it seems like years since I had a full night’s sleep.” Not that I wasn’t enjoying every minute…but I sure was tired. Sometimes the days seemed long, when I was home all alone with three little ones needing every ounce of my attention and nurturing. Sometimes the nights seemed even longer. I never wished away the moments, although I did occasionally think “Okay, I am REALLY done with potty training now!” Sometimes the weeks seemed long, when my husband traveled on business and I tackled the parenting alone. Sometimes the seasons seemed long, when we entered a difficult phase with one of the children. But then something would happen to give me pause, like a baby learning to walk, a child losing his first tooth, or a kindergartener heading off to school, looking so grownup with their carefully chosen backpack on their back. And I’d think, “No, wait! It’s all going too fast!” And as each year passed, and my babies got older, it seemed that the calendar pages just started to fly. Soon we went from having one in school, to having three in homeschool. Overnight, it seemed, we went from being young parents with small children, to (gasp!) middle-aged parents with teenagers.
And today, we enter a new phase…that of parents to an adult. Eighteen years ago today, our precious firstborn entered the world and we became parents. I remember taking her home from the hospital and my husband and I looking at each other in disbelief that we were really solely responsible for this tiny little creature. Oh, and it couldn’t possibly be eighteen years ago…it was just yesterday, wasn’t it? It was just yesterday that we prayed desperate prayers that God would give us a child. It was just yesterday that she finally joined our family, the answer to a thousand prayers. It was just yesterday that she sang her way through our house, one minute being Cinderella and the next Snow White. It was just yesterday that she headed off to school and broke my heart when she came home with the oft-repeated phrase, “But, Mommy, Mrs. S. does it THIS way.” It was just yesterday when we pulled her out of school to continue educating her at home and we battled for a year before she became content with homeschooling. It had to be just yesterday when she fervently pledged her life to Christ and was baptized in our Jacuzzi tub. I’m certain that it was just yesterday when she started to grow into this lovely young woman who took my breath away when she danced. It was just yesterday when I saw her all decked out in a Civil War ball gown, with her hair in a beautiful updo and her makeup so perfect, heading off to the ball on her daddy’s arm. It was just yesterday that we began planning her future, with college choices and scholarship applications and late night talks about life and love. And now, here she stands, a beautiful young woman with a passionate heart and a determined outlook, ready to take those first steps into her adulthood. And I think my heart will overflow.
And now I know that those little old ladies were wise beyond measure…time really does fly and there is nothing we can do to slow it down. Those endless nights of rocking and feeding that tiny little baby will soon turn into late nights of waiting for your teenager to come home from work, and praying for her safety on the snow-covered streets. Those days of thinking you’ll never have an adult conversation again will soon turn into late night gabfests with your almost adult child. The carefree years of thinking they will always eat at your table, or be with you on vacation, or celebrate Christmas around your tree will all too soon be days of waving goodbye as she drives off to work, or watching proudly as he dons his cap and gown, or wiping away a tear as she walks down that aisle dressed in white to begin her life with another. You know what? The little old ladies were right.
So, as I celebrate my sweet girl today, I will be listening a little more closely, taking a little more time to just talk, and remembering each precious moment. And even as I grieve the “lasts”, I will be rejoicing in the satisfaction of watching a little girl grow into a woman who loves her family and her Lord and is ready to take those tentative first steps into the rest of her life. God be with you, my precious Molly. We are so proud of the lovely young lady you have become. You are a treasure and a gift, and your daddy and I will love you forever.