I was new to the community and new to our church and fairly new to motherhood, my oldest two being my only two at the time, a baby and a preschooler. I had met another mom at a church function and in the course of our conversation she invited me to a prayer group she was starting. And so I began to meet weekly with three other moms to pray.
We met during the lunch hour; my husband would come home to eat and watch the boys and I would dash off to my friend's house to chat and pray. Sometimes we would run a little late, our prayers and conversation lasting beyond his allotted hour for lunch, and sometimes on those days I would dash back home to find him standing in the driveway waiting on me, the baby in his arms. He didn't mind me praying, absolutely not; he did mind not getting back to work when he ought.
I was the youngest mom of the four. Two of the moms had teenagers and the other was a mom to both teenagers and a preschooler the age of my oldest--a foot in both worlds, we liked to say. Though our primary purpose was prayer I reaped great benefit from the secondary effect of being mentored, however informally such mentorship occurred. They merely shared their lives with me and I learned so much from them, not just about best mothering practices but about faith and surrender and loving the Lord.
Hearing my friends beseech the Lord on behalf of their husbands and children and mine had a profound effect on me that has reverberated through the years. Though we have each gone our separate ways in the years since, I still think of them, my friends and fellow pray-ers, and I thank the Lord for their example and their wisdom.
During the course of our meeting together one of the mom's oldest boy graduated from high school. Keep in mind I was young(er) then, not so very far out of high school myself, certainly closer to her son's age and stage of life than hers. I remember quite clearly her confessing to us in tears that his leaving home left the kind of void that felt like a death of sorts and she grieved what would never be again.
I remember it clearly because I remember my immediate thought was one of judgment and condemnation. Yes, I judged her. I thought her sadness silly and self centered. In my mind college was the natural course of things and hello? it wasn't like he was just born yesterday! I mean, what did you think would happen after high school?
See, it hadn't been too many years since I myself had left home (and my mom cried) so when my friend shared her grief I sympathized more with the son than the mom, assuming the son would greet his mom's tears much the same as I had mine, with a mixture of discomfort and embarrassment. I may have even rolled my eyes. I might have thought to myself: good grief, get over it.
Except now. Now I understand. Now I'm that mom and it's my boy who will leave home. Now I know the bittersweet joy of raising a boy to a man and watching him fly the coop. Now I know I will mourn the transition and yes I will no doubt cry. I understand the grief of the years passing so quickly and everything changing with a seeming suddeness. I know what I could not have imagined then: that eighteen years is really the blink of an eye and that the sadness I will feel may be silly and self centered but it is also real. It is indeed the end of something, a death of sorts, and I will grieve what will never be again.
Good grief, you may be thinking, perhaps it is you, Lisa, who needs to get over it. And you would be right: it is just that, a good grief, and, yes, I will get over it.
I saw my friend a few months ago at the grocery store. Her boys have graduated from college and medical school, have gotten married, and are settled in their respective careers. She is a grandmother! So much joy! As we caught up on the goings and comings of our respective families, once again her example proved instructive and encouraging to me. Her mothering testimony reminds me that we raise our kids doing the best we can fully relying on the grace and sufficiency of the Lord and though we may mourn the transitions we find them to be only temporary.
It's the days that make up our lives and each day is opportunity to rejoice and to trust. We celebrate the Lord's faithfulness to us in countless blessings and innumerable providences and we praise Him for each day's bounty of mercy and grace.
Yes and amen.