I've never met Emily, but it feels like I know her and somehow she knows me all too well. What I mean is...everytime I read her writing and learn what God is talking to her about, it strangely describes my very own thoughts and life events. It's a bit eerie like The Truman Show except it would be called The Nichole Show. Yet on the other side it's comforting to know my thoughts and experiences are shared by another. Maybe I'm not as strange as I think I am...
You see...it was a normal morning of getting the girls off to school. One of my days off when I don't have to rush off to work, saying good-bye as I head out the door. It's when I can put on my slippers and stay in my pajamas as I make the girls' lunches. I offer them breakfast, hoping they will eat something healthy before heading off to school. If there is a stressful or hurried moment, I have the flexibility to help ease the morning anxiety. It's nice to be available and raise the odds for a good start to the day.
I hand my high schooler her lunch and send her off with a hug and a kiss and an "I love you." My oldest is now driving herself to school, car keys in hand, and heading off on her own. As I watch her drive off, flashbacks come to mind of her golden locks waving in the wind as she rode her stick horse around the back yard to get place to place. She was always so full of energy and had places to go, but back then it was always with me. Now she drives off on her adventures most of the time without me.
Next up is my middle schooler, always ready to go early. Plans out what she will wear the night before, thinking about what the day will entail. Her dad or I still have the luxury of being able to take her to school and listen to her anticipated events of the day as well as the worries that lurk before happening. Even though the trip is only two minutes to school, much can be communicated in that short time together. Our good bye routine involves the exchange of "Love you" and occasionally I get the "look back" as I drive off, coupled with a smile and wave. They don't happen every time we depart, but I never fail to look for them while I drive off, in hopes that it will be the day she looks back with one more send-off gesture. I want to capture it any time I can.
One more...my 5th grader. Most of the time we walk to the bus stop, and while waiting we pull out our special rock we use to play soccer with. Our goal lines are the lines on the sidewalk. Goalie verses goalie. Who can kick the rock past each other's line? But this particular morning, it was a bit cold and rainy so we decided to drive. I put my bathrobe on over my pajamas. When the bus arrived, my youngest scurried out of the vehicle, and I watched her run to her bus, dressed in her Nikiski basketball sweatshirt and black converse. Then it hit me...she's almost done with elementary school. I won't be an elementary mom anymore next year. I won't be taking anyone to the bus stop in my pajamas and slippers and playing soccer goalie with a rock. I waited to watch the bus drive by - the bus driver waved. I waved back. And down the row of windows was my baby's face, waving back at me in the window. Her hand formed into an "I love you" sign, and I cupped my hands together in the shape of a heart. She scrambled to do the same with her hands before she was out of sight. We both smiled, and I laughed.
It wasn't too long ago...it was my oldest's face looking back at me through the bus window. Then my middle child, and now the last one. Those three little faces have grown up so fast, just like all the older moms told me would happen yet I didn't believe it at the time.
I turned my vehicle around to head back home and that's when my laughter turned to tears, revealing a heartfelt gratitude, deep motherly sadness, and an overwhelming love for the fast-growing daughters God gave me to raise and nurture.
Emily Freeman's recent blog What It Feels Like When Your Kids Are Growing Up, described exactly what I had been feeling that morning and for many months now. I just couldn't put the internal struggle into words. But Emily did when she penned this rhetorical question,
"Aren't we always standing on a line between what was and what will be?".
I know we journey through many different seasons of life - childhood, adolescent years, the 20's, newlyweds, young family stage, empty nesters, grandparents. But the season I'm in right now caught me by surprise...I never quite had a label for it. That is until Emily wrote about being a mid-life mom. The place where your kids aren't little anymore, but not quite grown up. Instead of counting up how old they are, we find ourselves counting down the years left we have with them. It's an odd sort of feeling.
If you are a mom like me - a mom right in the middle of her daughter/son's growing up years - perhaps you are curious to read Emily Freeman's viewpoint in this rather awkward season. Her words are helping me form my own and navigate through this unexpected mid-life crisis with the hope that this season will nurture, prune, and grow both my daughters and me into the women God designed us to be.
What It Feels Like When Your Kids Are Growing Up