Oh these times… they are a’changin. The signs are everywhere….
Not long ago, while cleaning an overgrown area in the yard, I spotted them: two pool noodle and pvc-pipe “swords”. Each was wrapped soundly in what had to be an entire roll of duct tape and lay hidden beneath a few seasons of vines and leaves— likely captured in the midst of a neighborhood skirmish or dropped in place at the sound of the dinner bell. Four years? Five? Surely, they had no idea it was their last battle.
Later, while prepping the bathroom for a long overdue paint job, I was forced to remove this little sign from the shower wall. No longer important but once upon a very real time, it was all a mother could do in this house to ensure she had at least one washcloth with which to wash her face. One that hadn’t been used to wipe mud from a shoe— or worse!
Then… there’s this charming memento of a former time when this gesture only made me feel a little bit better about the situation since it was largely ignored and at least once a week I’d find myself nearly “bottomed out and shrieking” in the wee hours of the dimly lit night. #word
There are no more army men in the refrigerator.
I haven’t stepped on a Lego in ages.
The potted plants haven’t seen a Matchbox car or dinosaur in quite a while.
AirSoft BB’s still haunt the corners only because I kicked the box while cleaning the closet.
The bunker-style holes in the back yard have been filled in and the old tires used for camouflage have recently been stacked and turned into a bird bath. The honeybees like it too.
The American Girl doll is wrapped and safely tucked away along with many dog-eared and well-loved lap books waiting on the next generation of readers to come along. Pointe shoes hang here and there testifying to the countless lessons and lost bobby pins of a chiffon-and-lace girl — now happily married and continuing the legacy many hours of driving away.
A page is turned.
These are the fading signs of Motherhood.
Home schooling only factored in more gravity to the massive responsibility I’ve felt attempting to mother these past 24 years. Twenty-four. Whew. Depending on where you find yourself in the equation, 24 years may or may not seem like a long time. If you’re currently up to your elbows and eyeballs in chaos and bodily fluids, well then it seems near-about eternal!
However, if you’re like me— who just this very moment heard “number last” call “I love you” while driving off (in YOUR car) to get a haircut he’ll pay for with his own money, well. There is hardly a way to define that tender mix of pleasure and pain — both necessary ingredients in this beautiful recipe of life.
“This is good.” I tell myself.
This is how it’s supposed to be.
With equal amounts of fear and trembling, joy and imagination…you raise them up and hold them close with the goal of someday… letting them go.
I blinked and BAM! My “baby” son is now a senior in high school. In all fairness, it wasn’t really a blink but I’ll straight up tell you: it’s a bit stunning to think about it now that it’s here. Sometimes sadness, or at the very least melancholy threatens to creep up around the edges of my heart. It’s the feeling that something is flat over and done and I’ll never have it again. With a strange longing, I look back at these memories sweetly colored and draped with nostalgia and it almost overwhelms me.
Until I stop.
Because I must.
Because nostalgia can be a slow, killing disease. Nostalgia can rob you blind of the wonderful here and now and well, let’s be honest— those days were good, but they were equally hard and now this— even the hard stuff– really good too. I’d be a fool to insult the truth by attempting to paint a picture of perfection that really doesn’t exist in any situation. FACT: none of us has it all together. Although together, it’s nice that we try.
It’s one of the first things I noticed when I first started writing: how much support the common Mommy can find out here. Honestly, it floored me. I was drowning in personal crisis back then so it also grieved my heart terribly to find so much affirmation and advice, camaraderie and consolation given and shared so freely. I didn’t have that. My heart ached at first because OH!! I wished I could turn back the hands of time and live my Mommy years again in the company of others who might understand that I was an ignorant pioneer in this experience. I needed mothering myself.
I didn’t stay there long.
Sure, I have my regrets.
There are things I’d do more better.
There are some things I’d do less….. or not at all.
I’m not going to preach or pronounce over which is which because there are some things we each must learn in order to fully rely on and freely fall into the arms of Jesus. In this way, we are forever children too. Besides, how can I regret anything that keeps me on my knees before him?
It was the words of a friend that comforted me most reminding me that God is sovereign especially in this regard: He knows. I was born for such a time as this, no mistake.
It’s all grace. Abundantly received and now more to be given beyond those years.
To my today Self.
To my adult children and future grandchildren .
To my neighbor with a herd of young’uns running around the yard.
To the unwed mother down the street.
Grace: It’s the most necessary ingredient of motherhood.
Like a well-loved lap book in the hands of God, grace has rubbed smooth most of the sharp edges of my life. He knows my heart so time and again when I stood perched on the edges of making a huge mess of it all and about to topple over into some Mom-crazy abyss, God bridged the gap with Himself and somehow allowed us all to cross safely over, through and beyond to today. How kind.
How kind that He has given me today. I can almost laugh at my former ignorances because I have the gift and the memories today:
We lived and loved together under this roof out loud.
Clenched fists, hot tears, slammed doors and angry voices.
Many, many precious “I’m-sorry-I-love-you” moments on both sides of the equation.
Kitchen dancing and hide-n-seek.
Night terrors, bad dreams, potty training and puke buckets.
The ebb and flow of motherhood balanced out with forehead kisses of God’s grace.
What a precious, precious gift. It’s been good.