So these are my kids. Aren’t they just the cutest? I mean, really. They’re so little and adorable. Last week my daughter got the acceptance letter to the university she was really hoping to get into. And my son asked a girl to the prom.
(insert sound of needle sliding across a vinyl record) Wait…What??!!
How can she be heading to college? She’s still wearing bows in her hair and loves horses! And he’s definitely not old enough to be asking a girl to a dance. He still has little baby teeth that don’t quite fit together! Oh my….I must be trapped in a time warp or something. Maybe I accidentally fell into the TARDIS and it got stuck on fast-forward?
No, the reality of it all is that this picture is from many years ago. When Dragon Tales was still a regular show on my television, training wheels were still on the bikes in the garage, and the chicken nuggets had to be shaped like dinosaurs. Nowadays, Gotham and The Red Band Society can be heard from the television in the basement, bikes were replaced by a car, and…well…they still like chicken nuggets, but can you imagine if I came home with a bag of them shaped like dinosaurs now? It would just confirm what they already think; that I’m losing my marbles.
You know, I used to have all my marbles. I went to college, I worked a full time job, I used to have intelligent conversations with people. These days it’s not uncommon for me to walk into the room and stand there for 30 seconds or so, glancing around, then walk out because I forgot why I went in there in the first place. I know my kids are sitting there looking at each other like, ” She’s doing it again.” They probably are plotting what kind of caregiver they’re going to get for me because the day will come when I just start opening the front door and wandering away. I’m forever saying to one of them, “Hey, I need you to…did I ask you about…whatever happened to…hmmm.” Again, the looks of pity as I continue to mentally fail.
I try to do certain things to help maintain the marbles I have left. My grandmother is in her 90’s and has always been the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I figured following her example might be a good idea. Like eating blueberries; that’s awesome brain food. Crossword puzzles are fun but I could never do them at the level my grandma does them at. She’s literally a walking dictionary. I love to read and wish I did it more often than I do. I’m thinking probably when I no longer have to pull dirty clothes out from under beds to do laundry, make meal plans and grocery shop for 4 every week, or figure out what kind of irresistibly desirable souvenirs we are going to make and sell at the next theater production the kids are in, THEN I will have more time to just sit and read. Right?
I am most definitely on the downslope of child-raising. A couple more years and they both will be grown and doing their own things. There are days, believe me, when I can’t wait for that to happen. Like when Little Miss THING rolls her eyes at me and slams her bedroom door. Yeh, some of my lesser proud parenting moments have resulted from that. Or when “The Boy” does half of the things he does on a regular basis – I swear if he had been born first he’d be an only child. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t bad kids by any means. But they’re teenagers. And no matter how much you plan and prepare for them to NOT be typical teens, one day you find yourself looking in the mirror and asking how the *$@! did that happen?! There are days when I look forward to not having “child responsibilities” because that means the husband and I can finally stretch our nomadic wings again. The only reason that we have lived in the same place for so many years is because we wanted our kids to have a solid place to call “home.” But the day will come when we can hop in the car or get on a plane and just…go. I’m kind of excited about that.
But then I look at this picture of them, from so many years ago, and it makes me a little sad. Sometimes I can’t believe that their childhood is almost over. When people say to “cherish those moments because they grow up fast,” they aren’t kidding. Sometimes I worry that I will forget about important things. And no, I’m not referring to the “losing my marbles” issue. I’m seriously talking about how things can be forgotten with the passing of time. We had a little “saying” that the kids and I would say to each other every night before I closed the door to their bedroom. The other day we were actually talking about it and at first I couldn’t remember how it went. That concerned me because it was something special that we did for a lot of years. I started really stressing over other things I could potentially forget about.
But really, is it the actual words that we said that’s most important? Or is it the feeling and the connection that it brought? That last moment at the end of all those days that went by too fast, where, in the quiet of the dark, we whispered goodnights and I love you’s. Do we really have to retain every single detail of birthday parties down to what flavor the frosting was on the firetruck cake? Or is it the feeling that the kids will carry with them, knowing that they were important enough to celebrate every year? Do we, as mothers, sometimes try too hard to make everything perfect for fear that if we don’t we will somehow traumatized our children so they never are able to grow up and be productive members of society? Oh, the humanity!!!
You know, I used to worry about that a lot. And if we are being honest here, deep down those worries still nag at me. But I’ve discovered that the older I get and the more years of motherhood I add on, the more I have realized that yes, I am going to screw up something at some point, probably on a daily basis. But, you know what? Most nights these two, taller-than-me kids will amble in to my bedroom and give me a hug goodnight. Oftentimes my daughter will crawl into bed and lay next to me for a few minutes. And at that point is doesn’t matter what was missed or screwed up. At that point, the connection that we will always remember is made.
Raising children, and then letting them go is hard. OK, that’s a gross understatement. But I don’t know if there’s actually a word that describes what it’s like. However, as a Christian mother, I understand that my two actually belong to God. They are HIS, and He blessed me by entrusting them to me to care for. He favored me with these two specific little beings, not to keep them close and hidden, but to teach them to the best of my abilities and then set them free to live out their lives in blazing glory that honors Him.
Our legacies as mothers isn’t if our kids had the most popular birthday parties, wore the most in-fashion clothes, had the latest technology items, was the star player on the basketball team, got into the best college or was the wealthy CEO of a Fortune 100 company. Our legacy should be our children who, as Christ-followers, made a difference in the world. Who lived a life reflecting God’s love, taught to them by us. Who recognized their giftings from God and used them in the way God planned for them to be used to further His kingdom. We all look forward to the day when we stand before God and He smiles and says to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But for some of us, all of the joy, pain, laughter, tears, pride and heartache will be worth it when He also says…
“You were a great mom.”
Céad míle beannachta.
(One hundred thousand blessings)