How is it that I’ve never accomplished being two places at once but she’s everywhere I turn?
In the blue mason jar on the kitchen counter. (Out of all the glasses I have, these are what she chooses to drink from. Every time.)
In the half-eaten Zip-loc of Snicker-doodles (over-done to everyone in the family except to me…unfortunately); the sad, little lumpy Cake Pops (she used toothpicks, for heaven’s sake! But she was in a baking mood and she’s the champion of using what you’ve got…); the watermelon she bought for her brother (since I’ve refused to buy it until they’re in season).
In the stripped sheets piled on the floor, in the extra towel hooked on the bathroom door, in the “inappropriate” clothes not taken. Tank tops and tasteful shorts inappropriate for a sweltering climate where temperatures will swell past 100°; she’ll honor the locals by choosing respectful modesty over her comfort.
In the pile of books left behind, her Precious. She prefers turning pages, folding corners, writing notes. While reading might be leisure for some, for her it is active…adventure…oxygen.
She can’t help that she’s firstborn, the one who made me a mother. They turn us crazy, don’t they?
First, it’s the constant vigilance throughout the night to make sure they’re breathing.
Then it’s pride over every milestone no matter its size. Rolling over. A smile. Intentional sounds. Sitting up. Crawling. Lost teeth. First steps. First everything…
First day of school.
First day of middle school.
First day of high school.
First day of college.
When they leave home after high school, whether for college or a job or to serve country, the void is palpable.
It’s the seed of ache.
Motherhood is when a sliver of your heart escapes from your chest and takes permanent residence outside your body.
You incubate that heart for months, and deliver it through a wash of blood and tears, and for a lot of years it lives close, close enough to touch about any time you want to. Any time you need to.
I suspect you’ll never stop feeling its rhythm, its strum, its love.
But then one day it’s out of reach and you’ll only hear its echo and it won’t and will be enough all at the same time.
It will confound you and bless you at the same time, too.
Madden and delight.
The paradox of motherhood.
My baby girl has spent the better part of the past 24 hours in the air but her presence fills my atmosphere.
She is going, first, because her field of study demands that she go.
But she would go even if she didn’t need to because she’s a go-er. A “hands and feet” bringer. A lover of people in ways that spill her to exhaustion.
I have the glorious misfortune of liking my daughter as much as I love her, a dread only because it’s harder to hold her with an open hand.
I’ve known forever that’s the way it has to be, that I’m not raising my children for keeps.
She is hardly perfect, lest I give you the wrong idea, but I’m learning to bite my tongue over things that don’t matter. Her needs teach me to hold my things loosely and that sometimes a lie is okay, in the way that you give away the last piece of cake – the one you’ve been rationing for yourself – with a wave of your hand and a miraculously believable I really don’t like chocolate anymore on your lips.
I’ve had the luxury of being with her for a few days and I spent that time watching her. I see her beauty, marrow-deep and pure, and I beg God for more years so I can know her longer.
So I’m detoxing. This is me flattening my palms to the sky-to the heavens-to God, an offering, when I would much prefer to clamp them shut.
She’s living in the Philippines this summer, working in a rural village inhabited by people who used to roam the streets of Manila. Twelve weeks. Eighty-six days.
That’s just 8,916,480 heart beats.
Piece of cake.
Written so beautifully and so heart felt. Thank you!
It speaks the words I feel when my youngest daughter (MY baby of 23) comes for a visit. You see, my first born is still living with me. She, her husband and her child. She had him young. It wasn’t until my baby girl suddenly sprang from the coop at 20 1/2 did I understand that empty nest thing… She who couldn’t wait to break loose…to be free.
I really understand where you are coming from and it can be bittersweet but it is meant to be. She can depend on God more with me 4 hours away.
Thanks for such an engaging story.
“She can depend on God more with me 4 hours away.”
Whoa, nellie! That hit me like a sledgehammer :).
“I have the glorious misfortune of liking my daughter as much as I love her”
My oldest graduates June 1. So much pride. Yet letting go. Proud of the woman she is and becoming.
Thankful for the gift God gave me.
You and I Robin. Daughters of mothers who left us too soon know the gift of the sacred mother/daughter relationship.
Thankyou once again for your words.
The “natural order” of things is good, even if it’s not always easy. The alternative can bring with it even more heartache than plain ol’ living.
I wish I could recall more of your story :/…losing my mom when I was nine changed me in ways big and small; one of the most lasting is I never assume a child I meet for the first time has a mom (or dad, for that matter). That presumption thrust upon me during my early years was always tricky to navigate; I didn’t want the person who asked about “your mother” to feel bad that mine had died. So I started pretending….
Thanks for your encouragement; not quite sure why I shared the above, but it’s what popped in my head when I read your comment :).
I am trying to get this lump the size of Texas out of my throat.I’m seeing little Rachel flying around the world.But you raised her that way.Good for you,Robin. I am proud of you.
So glad we’ve re-connected online! What is Grace up to these days??
Your kind words are soul-balm this morning. Thanks for taking time to read…and write. 🙂
Oh my gosh! I feel like God led me directly to your blog to read your words. You have captured what is in my heart and let me know that I am not alone in what I am feeling as I prepare to watch my beloved firstborn head off into her future. “Glorious Misfortune”. Yes! Yes THIS is how I feel. Thank you for sharing your heart. Here’s where I shared mine on the same topic: http://joyfulwhimsy.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-they-dont-tell-you-in-what-to.html
I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. People like me are watching people like you and learning. I hope and pray and do what I can so that my tiny people will grow into big people with hearts like your girl and your boys! Thank you for letting me glimpse into the eyes of tomorrow because I know tomorrow will be here in a blink.
I love you so and had absolutely NO intentions of crying this morning… my own Girlie… my Only… my one who I like as much as I love too, is packing her things and changing her address for the first time ever.
She is wrapping up her first year of college and is only moving 5 minutes away so I have no comparison at all… and yet it is change and it will require trust and belief that she is ready and that He has got her even when I am not holding on… praying for you as I am praying for me, my friend!
He’s got both of our girlies! He’s got us all!
The empty nest thing can be hard at times. Then it can be ok with just you, hubby and quiet for a while.
My oldest sister’s daughter went to China for graduate school. While there she taught English to Chinese and met a nice young man. Fast forward a few years they are married have two children (first born in US and the second in China). They are now living in China permanently working on a mission of getting Chinese students into Christian Colleges in the US. It can be hard not seeing them much except by Skype.
Blessings as you allow your youngsters to fly.
Wow how beautifully written! I can feel your mix of emotions through your writing and that is such a blessing. My boys are younger but looking ahead (not to far mind you) and knowing it will come quicker then we know. I can only pray that they grow into beautiful adults and I can show them a softer wold then they have known in the past (they were adopted through the foster care system). This post has touched my heart today, for that I THANK YOU! Have a blessed day.