Somehow I’ve managed to stifle my heartache over sending Noah off to college in the fall. Maybe it’s because Samford is so close. I’ve just imagined that he’s having an extended spend-the-night stay with his buddies, & somehow that helps. But last night, on our last night of vacation, it hit me like a ton of bricks just how big all of my kids are. That probably wasn’t helped by the fact that earlier that day we’d watched old videos of the kids when they were toddlers & preschoolers. My heart broke as I tried to figure out where the time had gone, and if I had been fully present throughout all of their childhoods. I was lying in bed last night almost in a state of panic over the fact that I am completely powerless to stop time from marching on. I was overwhelmed with a desire to hold and hug all of them and never let go. I felt an urgency to pay close attention to each one of them and not look away for even a second…I don’t want to miss anything! My silent sobs still managed to wake Lee up, and though he tried to comfort me, I couldn’t pull it together. I think I just needed to allow myself to cry it out, and I imagine I’ll do more of that in weeks and years to come. I’m always borderline depressed at the end of every family getaway, but this time it’s especially…well, bad.
But one realization I’m having is this: when your kids transition out of being so dependent on you into more independent young adults, seeing the product of God’s hand in your parenting is a beautiful thing. I’m finding myself genuinely and pleasantly surprised at how my older kids think, respond, and behave. I have moments when I think, “Wow. He actually gets it!” I’m also feeling somewhat relieved that the mistakes I’ve made that I felt sure would scar my kids for life have been filtered through God’s grace and, instead, grew me to be better & wiser. It’s especially rewarding when you want to hang out with your kids because they’re actually hilarious and loads of fun. (The reward of having kids that are more witty than you is epic!) Or because you can have serious discussions about politics, God, relationships, & just life. These things help make the transition into the next phase of a mom’s life somewhat bearable, and for that I thank God.
At the end of every summer I’ve thought about all the moms and dads in the world who were sending their high school graduates off to college, and I would nearly cry thinking of what they must be feeling. I’d also feel a sense of relief in knowing that I still had a while before any of my kids were at that age. But now…ugh…it’s here, and there’s not a thing in the world I can do about it. My plan is to try my hardest to focus on the blessings ahead rather than lament the past, and invest as much as I can into those still in my nest. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated in the meantime…I won’t deny the struggle! Being a mother has been and very much is the greatest joy of my life, and emotions aside, I do trust God to lead and guide me through each phase of parenthood. He’s been so faithful to do just that so far, and I know He will be faithful to the very end. As I, and all of us, continue to move through life, one prayer I have is to follow this passage more deliberately & consistently:
“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.” Deuteronomy 6:6-8
I want so much not only to talk about, but also to obey God and live out the gospel in front of my kids from sun up to sun down, every day, and in every circumstance. Teaching them what it means to have a real relationship with Jesus is an eternal investment, and I also believe it’s the most loving thing I can do for any of them. I’ll never be able to do that perfectly, but I pray to be, at the very least, consistent. I praise God for loaning me such precious people to love, nurture and raise. In return, I want their lives to honor and reflect Him, and I pray that none of them will ever turn from His ways. As for me, I’m confident that seeing Jesus in their lives will far overshadow any grief I might feel over their growing up. And for the comfort that will bring, I am so grateful.