As my daughter prepares her life for the birth of our first grandbaby I find myself trying to remember things for her sake, and some for my own. “Mom,” she’ll say, “Do you remember what Braxton-Hicks felt like?” Or she’ll ask questions about nursing or diapers or labor pains.
It was only fourteen years ago that I dealt with these things for the last time, but gosh, it feels like another lifetime. I try hard to remember what it felt like to have my first baby. To remember what it felt like to carry a life inside of me. To remember if I missed the kicks from the inside once they were cries on the outside.
When I first had my first, I was an eighteen year old without a very helpful mother figuring out an awful lot on my own. In retrospect, it seemed like I spent the majority of that first year with my baby trying to keep him from crying. Crying at church, crying all night, crying because his little tummy hurt. Christian remembers coming home from work, all filthy and exhausted to our little apartment to find his wife and his son playing and giggling on a blankie on the ugly brown carpet.
It was pure bliss for me. It was also like a gajillion spinning plates at a time. Pretty plates, but a gajillion of them. I’m so glad that is how he remembers those days.
As I thought about this the other night in the wee hours of the night that are now blissfully quiet, I realized that it was also through toddlerhood that I was working to prevent tears for my little ones. Oh, how I hated when they fell and put a tooth through a lip and their little baby blood spilled. It was my worst kind of day when they got the cries that led to sobs and hiccups and patchy foreheads from the trauma of it all.
Next came the school years. Then, I fought to keep away the tears from mean kids and scary dreams at night and the crazy drama of elementary school friendships.
Thankfully, I didn’t know the tears that I would need to face over the next few years as the drastic changes happened in the mirrors and led to crises of identity and worth of self. Friendship pain was much more personal and severe and along with it came terrible loneliness and the trickiest of opposite sex attention. Oh, how a momma’s heart positively grieves as her children face these kinds of heartaches. If only I could’ve borne the pain for their precious, growing hearts.
And then the pain became my own. Because the grownup-ness that followed brought choices I wished they wouldn’t make. Not many, but enough to make me question myself along every step of the way. Situations that took my children away from me and to places I never would have brought them when the bringing had been all with in my control. Now, they were balanced on tightropes, dangling precariously over chasms of pain and choices that would forever become part of their story.
And it wasn’t mine to control.
Heck, I couldn’t even help. No longer could I go curl up in their bed as they cried themselves to sleep. A mother’s kiss no longer fixed the owie.
And my faith was no longer enough for them.
Somewhere along the road, the truths that I had laid along the path before them needed to take root inside their very soul. It mattered not that I knew these things; what mattered is if I had shown them enough, lived them enough, for them to be a part of the very fabric of my children. That if they cried, the truth of the love I had known would be invited to the wounded soul in need.
At some point, what we have taught them ceases to be relevant. And the truth, the faith of it all, must become their own.
It is like letting go of their hands as they hang from a cliff and hope that they have the skills to fall well into hands they were taught are there and capable. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, this letting go.
Some days, I still fail. I helicopter mom (hover) like an Olympic champion. And then I remember that it’s okay if they cry now. My time to stop the tears, even wipe the tears has passed. I did it. And now they know. They do. They know that the love is found in the dark behind the veil of tears. The tears help wash your eyes to see, if you look for them, the hands that wait.
There is a purpose for it all–even the pain.
Above all else, I long for them to fall well and quickly and know that love like they know their name.
And then I have fulfilled my purpose and I can rest.
And just play with the grandbabies.
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.
Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
Joseph Hart 1759