Today as we drove Kyle to his fourth day of ninth grade, he announced, "177 school days left in this year." My heart sank and all I could do was shush him.
In only 177 short days the sweet arms that so tightly gripped our necks will be walking across the high school graduation stage. Esther will wear her purple cap and gown over the lovely dress I'll probably have to beg her to wear. I imagine her guest list at the ceremony will be one of the largest of all the students because she so dearly loves the community of people that so dearly love her.
As all moms do, through the years I've received my fair share of advice, critiques, and future projections from friends and strangers about parenting. So many of the unnecessary and annoying comments pushed me to be a better mom, to be more present, to not fall into the ugliness that people projected onto me and my family. I wrote a guest post describing my philosophy concerning this for my lovely friend, Alysa. You can read it here if you would like more context for what I'm writing now.
In trying to be present, I honestly feel like I've done a great job not looking back, wishing for the old days or looking forward, longing for time to go faster or get easier. One of my parenting goals is to be present in my four kids' lives while raising them with vision and hope for their future. It has not always been easy, but like training muscles, I worked to train my heart and mind to be disciplined in each stage of parenting.
But currently I'm being challenged in this goal. You just read that there are only 177 days of school left! Esther will be graduating and forging her way in the world. I am so looking forward to watching it all unfold. She is determined, trustworthy, intelligent, loving, loyal, and dependable. God's plans for her probably do not include living at home forever so I can peek in her room at night to say a little prayer over her while she sleeps. It is for the best of everyone that our journey keeps moving forward.
I've never been afraid of any coming season for my kids. Sure, I've been completely ignorant of the next step, or nervous for kindergarten, or apprehensive about letting them gain more independence, but fear about the future has not been a plague to my heart.
But, friends, I'm struggling to remain present in this season knowing what is coming in the next season. It feels like as soon as Esther moves out, Kyle, Morgan, and Carah will move out a minute later. It freaks me out to the point of tears leaking out of my eyes in the most random times. Like now.
Confession: I'm afraid.
Redemption: God knows.
He is giving me scripture in each moment of heart-jarring future dread. He is enabling me to choose to continue to be present and fully enjoy this stage, while choosing to believe each stage is better than the last. He is giving me moments with my family to savor all their "You're such a dork, Mom" grins while I make them stand in a circle and hold hands so I can look deeply into their faces and make a mental memory picture. He's filled my home with love, laughter, and hope for the future that overcomes my minutes of gasps as I realize Esther turns 18 in one month and I have gray hair and wrinkles.
They give me this look often. I have no idea why.
It will be ok. It will be so difficult to transition through these coming months and years, but so far God has provided experiential truth to my declaration that each season with my kids has been better than the last.
Where are you in journey, parenting or otherwise? Does being present come natural for you or does it take work? Do you look to the future with dread or with a better than the last mentality? Please share your comment love.
P.S. Here is an interesting observation: Most of the people in my life don't have kids, have kids that are significantly younger than mine, or already have grandkids. I don't know very many people in my current stage. Please know that I'm raw in this area before you type out your comment or send me a message. You may not want my feisty response. I mentioned in an earlier paragraph that moms often receive advice, critiques, and future projections. I'm a little or a lot more straight forward with that kind of stuff than I used to be. But don't let this disclaimer deter you from sharing.