It was a normal Monday. With the flu in the house, I wasn’t sure which child I would be up with in the early morning hours, but I knew someone would need something for their fever.
Up at 3am.
I had even beat my 20 year old Starbucks-early-morning-barista-daughter up. She would be leaving the house at 4:30am. The two year old wasn’t going back to bed. She was up and didn’t know what she wanted exactly, but she knew it needed to involve momma right next to her. There was no consoling her other than rocking her and singing softly to her as the Motrin took effect. As she began to settle down, the kitchen was now calling. Being up early with the younger kids allowed me a chance to make an early morning breakfast for my college student who was headed out to campus for a full day of summer classes. As the day unfolded, I knew it was a good time to get into that school room and organize all those school papers and clean out all the backpacks before something started growing in them. While the house was a flurry, little girls were drawing pictures for their big brother who was off at camp, my 16 year old daughter getting ready to take one of her sisters on that promised trip to the pool.
2pm: I grab a quick nap, my work-from-home hubby is headed to an appointment and we kiss goodbye.
It’s now 2:45 in the afternoon and I need to meet a student I’m tutoring at the library soon. With the dinner instructions explained to the teen in charge, and the preferred chores requested, I head out to teach.
3:30 at the library, my student has arrived late and I get a text.
Cassidy: Mom….Abby is being horrible. Will you talk to her? She has been rude, disobedient, and back talking. She’s told me she hates me over 8 times and counting and she keeps screaming like I’ve been hurting her, when in fact I haven’t touched her. She’s being SO dramatic!!
Me: Send her to my room and let her lay down. I will call her
Cassidy: I tried to. She won’t listen.
Me: I’m in the library and can’t talk yet. Please call dad. Try another approach with her. Just leave her be. Tell her calmly that her sister is resting and she needs to cooperate.
Cass: I’ve tried EVERYTHING. She won’t listen, when she goes to your room, she wakes up Charis!
Me (to my student), “Will you excuse me a minute?” I head to the stairwell and proceeded to try and mediate remotely a household that has been recovering from the flu with emotions high. I knew everyone was on edge and I innocently thought that a two hour trip away from home would be uneventful. Boy, was I wrong.
The offender had her say, and finally calmed down.
Time to leave the library. I’m now headed to the bank. So far a normal day.
Then it happened.
My oldest daughter called me. She’s the one living at home, has just graduated college, soon to be married in one month. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of days since she had met her fiancé at the airport and spent the day before with him. She had worked a full shift that morning and was asleep when I left the house.
Beth: Mom, are you coming home?
Me: Not yet, I have one more student to tutor.
Beth: Mom, he got the job.
Then I knew.
It hadn’t hit me till that moment.
She was leaving.
I knew it would happen, we have been planning a wedding for six months. But for some reason, today…I wept. Actually, I couldn’t stop the tears. They were flowing and would not stop. I wasn’t crying because I needed her to fill some emptiness in me,
…I wept because I will miss her. I wept just because…
I’m a mom.
Did I hug her enough? Tell her I love her enough? Did I listen to her when she was excited about a new book she was reading? Did I really try to make her comfortable in the home? Were the years she was here a blessing to her, or something else? Did we pray together enough? Did I take enough pictures? Did I tell her enough stories of her childhood? Did we spend enough time together?
I cry because I am thankful. I weep because God is good. He allows us to love as He loves…To draw from His well, His height and depth and width and breadth of unending, never failing love. We love because He first loved us.
It’s true, and now I get it. God really does just “loan” our children to us for a short season.
Then they leave.
Others have felt this way, my friends all warned me it would come suddenly.
And it did.
She’s my first. There are seven more to follow. I am hoping it will get easier. It is all good. Things are as they should be. She’s marrying the right man. She’s strong, independent, and loves the Lord. My head knows that everything is good.
I’m just waiting for my heart to get the message.
Suddenly, those early morning Motrin runs, non-stop dishes and laundry, and interrupting text messages don’t seem so bad.
Suddenly, in that moment, I realize that I have one chance to pour into all my children all the time and the love and grace and forgiveness and scripture reading and worship nights and family meetings and coaching and story-telling that I can possibly give them.
I have ONE chance to get it right.
Before it all becomes a memory.
I love you Bethany. I am so happy for you. The tears may flow this month, but they are tears of gratitude and love. You make me want to me a better mom.
To all the mommas out there, holding their babies right now in the middle of the night, one day they will leave, and you will be so glad you loved them deeply like you are doing right now. One day, you will thank the Lord, for these late nights. One day, you will look back, smile, and pray over the next generation who will carry the mantle that you have passed on to them. One day…..