Thursday, August 21, 2008

Emptying the nest

So we're headed down the highway toward my daughter's campus, the cars packed with what seems like everything she has ever owned. I have no idea how she is going to store all this in a tiny dorm room. To be sure she will ask us to bring some of it home. No, she won't want us around long enough to know what she might want taken home. We'll probably get her stuff to her room and trip over the last load as she says goodbye to us. On the radio is "her music" but she is starting to drift off to sleep on our long, tiring, 1 hour, 45 minute drive. She must be exhausted. I know she was up late packing even though I had told her to start early. I rest my hand on her leg and wake her. She apologizes for falling asleep, but I quickly tell her it's fine, to please rest, and ask if it is okay for my hand to stay there or if it is bothering her. She leaves it there. I can't even remember the last time she sat next to me long enough for me to put my hand on her leg. I am loving it! I'm quite proud of myself too, that I haven't had any crying jags today. Okay, I did cry last night when I was writing in a book I put in the Vera Bradley bag we are leaving with her as a surprise. Along with the book is some lotion, a first grade pencil like the one my daddy gave me when I went to college, and a wooden snake - a joke from way back when she was only 3 years old. I am hoping the bag will be found long after we're gone and it make her smile and realize how much we love her, how excited we are for what she is facing, and how much we will miss her and the days we have been blessed to have with her. We are SO blessed. So I am driving along and feeling pretty good. All of a sudden I notice the song on the radio, her music, is none other than the Colby Callait tune I have set as her ring tone. The tears start rolling down my cheeks - just softly, small tears, but I am having to hold back real crying. Then she grabs my hand - she wasn't sleeping or at least she awakened to hear the music, and she grabbed my hand. That did it - full blown crying now. I am still trying to make sure she doesn't see it, but I think it's too late. I assure her I am fine - just overcome with emotion. I think the remaining 45 miles were covered within the 4 minutes of that song. Before I knew it we were at her dorm. I barely got out of the car before the people there to help had both cars unloaded, all her stuff in the elevator, and my husband looked at me and said, "I'll move both cars. Go on up to her room."

Her roommate was there already. She had been worried about how they would get along for a while now - since they had differed on how to place the beds and if she acquiesced about bunking them, who would get the top, which she did NOT want. We got her bed the way she wanted and asked if she wanted us to put the sheets on it. "Oh yes, please," she replied. In fact she wanted us to help get the computer connected, take her to Target to get some things, hang clothes in the closet, the shower curtain on the rod, and help put things in new places. She wanted our help setting up her new home. I had not expected this at all. When we took her brother 3 years ago, we got all his stuff to his room, made sure he had what he needed to connect the computer and his roommate's TV, bought him a carpet, then left - or at least that is how it seems. I wish I had written then as I am now. Perhaps I will keep this memory fresh because of writing. But memories fade just as the moments with her seemed to fade all too quickly - though they lasted longer than we'd thought they would. Finally it was time to go. We left her with kisses and hugs, carefully hid the bag of goodies on the bed behind one of the many decorative pillows, and made our way to the cars for the ride home. I was dreading the ride back, certain it would seem extremely long through my tears and all the things I would be thinking about what she would face this year. I opened my door, sat down, told my husband I'd follow him, and looked over to see my son hopping in on the other side! One child was leaving home but the other hopped in next to me. It certainly made the ride back very pleasurable! We laughed and talked about what his freshman year had been like. What she might do tonight or in the coming weeks filled the 4 minutes it seemed to take to get home. Four days later, he moved back to campus. I find myself longing to hear the cell phone ring - no matter which ringtone, his or hers, and I smile at the music, let it play just a little longer than I might have before they were gone, and realize life is as it should be. Our job was to raise them to be independent and able to stand on their own as they answer God's call on their lives. They are just about there, and they still call Mom.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer passes much too quickly. Who says teachers get June, July, and August off???? I am so torn as a mom - my last summer with my daughter before she goes to college, and I feel like I am leaving her since I have to go back to work before she leaves. I want to spend time with her, but I also want to get my classroom and lesson plans ready. It is hard to be a mom!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I was able to spend a few days with a very dear friend last week at her friend's family beach cottage on the coast of North Carolina. It was a very spontaneous, last minute trip. Women need to be able to get away like that and need good women friends with whom they can share about anything and everything. Listening to her woes of motherhood as well as the joys she shared, I realized my own situation is not only different in terms of what is going on but very different in scale. While the differences do not make either any easier or harder with which to deal, it is reassuring to know God does not give us more than we can handle. That He is determining what can be handled is also reassuring.

It is equally amazing to me how children born of the same mother and raised in the same household with the same expectations can be so vastly different - goes back to the age old question of nurture versus nature. I was reminded of these differences not only through our conversations about our daughters but also through our walks along the beach viewing not only other mothers and daughters but also the shells chosen or discarded. While I might pick up one shell appearing quite plain colored to my friend, I would be quick to point out the intricate detail of the edge or the flecks of blue or green she had not noticed. She in turn might pick up what she thought was the perfect shell only to discard it when she noticed a crack or hole, but I might pick it up at that point realizing the hole won't be seen once it holds a votive or is glued to a picture frame with other shells overlapping it. In fact a hole may be the perfect place to put the eyeliner brush while it is sitting on my counter top. There is not one too plain or broken to use in some way.

While I can find uses for a shell some may find undesirable or beauty in something so obviously plain, I must also remember the beauty found in the process of sanctification. While mothering a teen daughter brings its instances of angst, pain, or frustration, I must remember the beauty in knowing God is still working on her. He never gives up, nor must I. She is too beautiful and being made more so by Him each day. She brings me joy and laughter too - just like finding the imperfectly perfect shell. And He will use her much like I find a use for each shell I choose. He chose us and chose me to be her mom - there is beauty in His perfect plan!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A glimpse of what is to come

Silence. Only one bathroom in use. No iPods blaring upstairs. No other laptop in use in the den. Nobody asking if I can take him or her somewhere. Nobody asking permission to go anywhere. Only one TV on and only when I want it on. Nobody moping around the house. No reminders to go feed your dog. Nobody crying over a fight with a boyfriend. No music blaring on the driveway or scent of suntan lotion when I walk out the front door.

Come August this will be every day...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Growing up - Letting go

Oh sometimes it is hard to grow up! But not for me, of course - I am an adult, a wife and mother of two college students, and all grown up. I remember feeling growing up was sometimes hard as a child, a teen, and even in my 20's and 30's - heck, I remember the first time I let my son play in the yard by himself. I remember having to make myself not go to the window just to stand and watch but to check on him and sit back down or continue doing what I was doing. I told myself then it was probably the first time I was having to take deliberate action to grow up as a mom. That same baby boy, now 21 years old, called today with sharp ear pains causing severe enough head aches for him to leave work. He called for advice, asked to speak to Dr. Mom, and he questioned whether there was something he could go buy at the drug store to take care of it. Now in all my medical wisdom and brilliance, I wanted to tell him exactly what to do. What good would that do - I would not be teaching him to handle these things himself merely teaching him to rely on me. So after much discussion from which I hope he was learning what questions to ask himself in these cases, I told him he needed to evaluate the level of pain he was having - realize it could be anything from a foreign object to an infection to a tumor (though not likely) and that messing around with one's hearing, ruptured ear drums, etc... could lead to more severe problems - then determine if he needed to go straight to the doctor or speak to a pharmacist about intervening symptomatic treatment. After bantering about what he should do through cell phone calls and text messages, he made his way to the local drug store, spoke to the pharmacist and left with some Sudafed and a plan to see the doctor on Friday morning if it was not better. He is growing up!

In the mean time, the 18 year old daughter wants to leave after she gets off work at 11:15 pm on Sunday to drive, with her 21 year old boyfriend, 7 hours and 2 states away to her father's house. Realizing this is one of those times she is growing up, I thought about the times her brother has driven back from his co-op job 4 states away and had car trouble - how fortunate we have been he has travel roadside service, and how she didn't really need to be on the road over night when leaving the next day was a perfectly acceptable alternative. I told her she was not leaving that night and could go the next day. After a call to her boyfriend, she seemed fine with that decision and even seemed to listen to me when I said this is the type of thing you talk over with the parents not just make a decision about and do. We came to an understanding - she is growing up and wants to control her life and make all decisions, but the reality is when one matures, one asks advice and seeks wisdom as part of the decision making process.

So I am once again learning when to let go and when to put my foot down. In the end my job as a parent includes raising them to be able to live independently and make wise decisions. In neither instance did I become emotional, jump in the car to rescue anyone, rant or rave to make my way known, or take the easy way. In both instances, my children got lessons in how to make wise decisions for themselves. Oh for Heaven's sake, I am growing up again!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

From 1986

A boy? How do I parent a boy? I only had sisters. I am a girl. What do I do with a boy? God, help me to know what to do with this child You gave me. Help me to raise him to be the man You want him to be. Keep him close to You please - always. A boy - now what do I know about football? I better learn quickly.

Is this what we've come to?

Is it really all about Posh and David? Do we really care whether Jamie Lynn has a girl or boy or who is with her when she has this baby? Does it matter who made Michelle's dress or how much it cost at Black and White? Does it matter if the high school girls made a pact to get pregnant? Does that change the fact they are pregnant, long for love, lack attention, or can't find personal value? Everyone has interests, true; but are these things news? Are these the major happenings of today's world? Values are showing! Do these things matter or are they ways to make some people feel better or worse about themselves? Is it all mass marketing? Are we as a people so stupid as to fall for all the mass marketing around us each day? Chalk it up to noting history - of society, people, politics, fashion, entertainment, life - but when it starts affecting what we do as people, has it gone too far? What shapes you? Who are you? And who are you because of news? What affects who you are - What you buy? What you value? What you laugh at? What you cry about? What you choose to do each day?

Fear Unfounded

A place unknown
What lives here
Who ventures in this path
When did it all happen
Where will it go from here
A place unknown awaiting discovery - fear, beauty, discovery