Sunday, May 25, 2014

When they will leave...

Whew. I just read a section of Rob Lowe's book "Love Life" in which he talks about his experience dropping his firstborn off at college.

If Jon hadn't been in the room, I would've been sobbing.

from this past Christmas
(yes, this post will have random pictures of the children in them, for your enjoyment)


You know, these kids are just going to break my heart, over and over with these life milestones. I am just starting to realize the hard nature of actual parenting. I have had people at my church (which has a lot of really big families in it - like, 9-13 kids) very gently smiling at our little family and casually saying things like:

"Oh, I miss those days" (as I am scooping up my whining toddler with one arm as my baby is fussing about a diaper in my other arm)

or

"You know, it seems hard now, but what they don't tell you is that it actually gets harder later." (gee, thanks for the encouragement!)

Which has gotten me thinking.

Isaac, helping Daddy fix a friend's car
Maybe it isn't the easiest time of life right now, as the babies/kids are small and demands are high, motherly attention is at a premium, and sleep deprivation convinces me that no decision is the right one and all matters under my jurisdiction are impossible.  But, as my rapidly-growing oldest boy is teaching me - a time is coming (and is sometimes already here?!) when I cannot fix things with a diaper change or a snack or a trip to the store or some playtime outside.  In it's own way, this is a beautifully simple time, full of innocent love and easy solutions to everyday problems.  A time when I can pretty much dictate what is going to happen in their days, orchestrating it so meltdowns are (usually) avoided, comfort is felt, and people are friendly (or avoided, if need be).  Soon, my baby girl and my toddler will be full fledged children, joining my oldest in navigating the social and emotional waters that can overwhelm.  And there are some things a snack just can't fix.
Fun photo shoot, a few weeks after Isabelle's birth
So, yes, I am starting to believe the people at church when they insinuate (or broadly hint) that these are actually the easy times, as physically draining as they can be.  Because letting your children become functioning people in this world is scary.  They will get hurt, they will hurt others, they will learn hard lessons, and face tough consequences - no one knows better than parents what it's like to be a kid/preteen/teenager.  I am afraid of when I don't know how to help. I am afraid of scars they will bear that I will not even be aware of until years later.  I am afraid of not being enough, pretty much...all the time.

me, at Thanksgiving. I'm thinking, "gee, I'm thankful I have this baby that needs to sleep on me so I have an excuse to not run after my other children and let the massive amount of food I just ate digest properly."
Selfishly, I am afraid that I love them so much...too much for my heart to handle, and I am afraid of the hurt that will come when they are hurt, the hurt that will come when they lash out at me as a safe sounding board, the hurt that will come when they are self-consumed and ignorant of my feelings in a given situation (as children are wont to be).
my sweet Isabelle
But mostly, I am afraid of when, after all the hard raising of them is done, and all the raucous laughter is made, and all the soul-releasing tears of adolescent angst are cried, and I have done what I can to help them understand how to navigate this life...I have to let them go.  I am not actively afraid for them (although I'm sure that will come) but more afraid of what I will be like at the end of this.  When it's just me again...left alone with my thoughts and feelings, not nurturing someone at any given moment...how lonely will that be?

because, boy, will I miss this. :)
I've never been one that needs to surround myself with people to feel better.  In the past, I have always preferred to have my space and let people come and go as they will...my time with them ebbing like the tide.  The military life (that I grew up with) will do that to you, I think. I've never been one for much nostalgia - I usually like to stay in the present and enjoy what's currently happening (maybe it has something to do with my very poor memory as well...you can ask my husband about that one.)  But these children have coerced me into thinking that I like to have people around. And I think I will miss them dearly when they have flown the nest.

Isaac, contemplating how many grains of sand there might be...
Maybe it's not something to worry about, especially as God tells us not to worry about such things.  But it makes me very much aware of why older folks look wistfully at my children and I and say, "the time flies by."  I will try to be more appreciative of the time God has put them in my care.  What a gift to love on these babes for these years.


At least I will have my hyper nostalgic husband to bear the pain of letting them go with me.  :)