It's an odd stage of motherhood I'm in. It's the uncharted territory of letting go of these kids we've raised, and embracing a new season in life. It's exciting and scary at the same time.
I remember, as a kid sitting in the “way back” seat of the family station wagon, which was roughly the length of an ocean liner, with faux wood paneling on the sides. We loved the fact that it had automatic windows and was the perfect shade of 1970’s avocado green. The “way back” seat was the one that got pulled up from the storage area in the rear and faced backward.
I can still feel the sensation of barreling toward a destination I could not see, while watching through the back window as the road fell away behind us. The dashed lane markers seemed to emerge from somewhere below, all huge and oversized, and then immediately get smaller and smaller until they disappeared as tiny dots into nothingness.
It felt like time travel, but with motion sickness. Everyone knows its a terrible idea to ride in a vehicle backwards. Don’t even think about reading a book, unless you have a barf bag handy.
But, moving toward a destination you can’t see. Watching the past, where you’ve been, fall away.
Even as new seasons of opportunities and personal growth are around the bend, I want to hold on to everything I’ve had, everything I’ve known.
This life, this beautiful messy life is changing once again and there was so much I haven't done in this season yet.
Grayson’s last years at home and first years of college have been bittersweet. When we moved to this funky barn house, he was nine. Nine! A kid with an orthodontic appliance and a penchant for building model airplanes. Lauren and Meghan were in high school and fixated on their hair, choir, youth group and a dizzying schedule of activities. Flash arrived just as they were leaving; a little gift from above to occupy my mind and assuage the mama-ache. Now the girls have made it all the way through college and into new marriages and BABIES(!) and Grayson studying aerospace engineering . . . and I couldn’t be more proud.
Or more reflective.
Possibly a little sad.
How many times had I wished I could walk down the driveway, away from motherhood and all the laundry? How many arguments tense discussions did Tom and I have over household rules, chores, activities, haircuts and homework that made me want to cut and run? How often had I complained about the squeaky Explorer and the workload and the burden of shaping young lives, which always felt more like herding cats than actual shaping? How often had I savored the sweetness of these children and loved their beautiful faces?
And now, motherhood is falling away behind me and I am hurtling toward a destination I can't see. A great unknown. I haven't been prepared for parenthood to disappear as a tiny dot into nothingness. I haven't even started their scrapbooks yet. I forgot to show Grayson how to fold fitted sheets.
All the things I’d once been so confident I’d accomplish before the kids left home seem so presumptuous now.
C. S. Lewis once said, “Isn’t it funny how, day by day nothing changes. But when you look back, everything is different.”
The incremental shifts, the tiny tectonic movements, the way your kid’s face loses that baby softness and becomes lean and chiseled, without your even noticing until you watch him sleep one night. The way you give everything you have to life and think it’s nothing much to offer, but there it is. Take it.
And the way it starts coming back to you.
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