Now, I’ve got crayons rolling around in the floorboard of my car
Bicycles all over my driveway, bats and balls all over my yard
And there’s a plastic man from outer space sitting in my chair
The signs of life are everywhere
They called over and over again, “Bye, Mom! Bye! I love you! I love you, Mom!” as Bri pulled out of the driveway this morning. He and I exchanged knowing smiles, and I called and signed “I love you” back to them as they drove away.
I watched our gold van disappear over the hill and turned and sighed, my eyes meeting with the high school girls waiting across the street for their bus. We smiled, nodded, and I called, “Y’all have a good day!” as I pulled my brown blanket closer and walked inside.
My steps are heavier these days, and not just because it is still painful to walk very far. The silence in my home is deafening.
I wandered through my house picking up and straightening strewn toys and clutter as I went…
…a comb and detangler spray sitting with pink hairbands
…a pair of nail clippers that Bear used last night to clip his own nails
…a pencil with an eraser that Ash used for his math homework
…Frances books that I read to Bella girl when she got home from school
…a little purple notebook that she pretends is her journal so she can be like me
…a mug on the counter that I pulled out, then abandoned as I prepared breakfast
…placemats that one of the boys forgot to put away when he cleared the table
…a colander of cherry tomatoes fresh from our garden
…Asher’s classroom happenings newsletter sitting next to Bella’s new schedule
…Bri’s folder of financial papers he’s been working on each night
…a flowered scarf Bella uses when she dances for me
…a garden magazine that Bri and I browsed for ideas last night
…our Bible, lying open to where we finished reading this morning
Some days I might meander through my house and see this and think, “What a mess!”
But really, y’all, today I look and say, “What a life!”
Look how we’ve lived just in the past 24 hours!
Yes, here are the signs of growing up. We have prepared them for this. Independence. But their independence is nestled with this need we still have for each other…
She needs me to comb and fix her hair, to read to her, to be her audience when she dances.
He needs me to help him learn how to take care of himself, to snuggle him when his tummy is sick, to answer questions like, “Where IS the Garden of Eden, anyways, Mom?”
He needs me to help him with his homework, to remind him of jobs he needs to finish, to help him prepare for his day.
He needs me to support him in his work, to dream big with him even when it seems our dreams are very far away, to tell him how amazing he is.
I need him to hold me at the end of the day when I am sobbing from the pain, physical and emotional, to remind me that food will taste good to me again one day, to encourage me that we will get through this battle, to be the hands that I cannot.
I need them to make me laugh and remind me that it is not all about me, to preach childlike faith and snuggle me when I am sad. I need them to dance for me and dress up for me and share stories of their lives with me.
And through it all we need Jesus. We need His Word. His Truth. Through all this learning and becoming and clinging and laughing and crying, we are growing up, too. Growing up in Him… but we need Him so desperately!
And we will live it to the fullest as best we can.
(And to all you parents out there who are dropping off children at school or starting your years home schooling, whether it be first days of pre-school or kindergarten or first days of middle school, high school or college, whether it be first days of third grade or first days of sophomore year, or whether it is just sending them off away on a new adventure. This morning, I just prayed for anyone whose heart may be hurting and sad over watching their children step away from their nests. And I prayed for your children, wherever they are, whoever they are, for protection and safety, for friendship and kindness, for minds ready to learn and hearts open to grow, for love and LIFE.)