When I was just the overwhelmed mom of only little ones, older parents used to tell me to not get so stressed out over the little things that I couldn't enjoy the ages that my children were in at the time. These sages assured me that the dirty diaper, into-everything stage wouldn't last forever. That I'd blink and they'd be gone and grown up. While not thinking that they were right out liars, that prediction just didn't seem like it could be accurate. After all, there were some sleepless nights that seemed to last for an eternity and didn't it seem like each child would never, ever learn to go in the potty?
But they do grow up and then they really are gone. That's my first little baby holding her baby ornament.
While it doesn't seem like yesterday, it definitely doesn't seem like nearly two decades ago since we were first hanging that ornament on the tree. It really seems like just a few years ago that I was dressing Anna in her first Christmas dress, all red and velvety, and her daddy was giving her a little Gap bear as a Christmas gift, though at not quite two months old, she wasn't quite opening it herself. And now she lives in another city, alone in her own apartment, and just made great grades her first year in college. She works as the emergency dispatcher for her huge apartment complex and has traveled in Asia and Africa without me.
My baby girl.
I still have six kids at home. Three of them are busy with teenaged lives and are racing towards adulthood. Anna's leaving has helped prepare me for the day that they will fly out of this crazy nest. I know now that I'm gonna blink my mascared lashes and they'll be packing up and gone.
And those three little ones? They are still wanting to hold my hand when we walk down the street and snuggle up for read alouds, but I know they're leaving is going to get here faster than I'd like,too.
Because of this, I'm going to tell myself often what those older parents used to say to me ---- enjoy them because they'll be gone before I know it. I'm going to take the time to read that picture book, decorate those cookies, and play that silly search game as we walk home from ballet. I'm going to miss some sleep staying up late for chats with the teenagers, spend a little extra money taking them out to eat, and grill their sandwiches just because they prefer them that way.
I'm going to not waste these years but spend them wisely. I'm going to make sure I show them how much I love them and how much I value my relationship with them. I'm going to pray with them and minister alongside them. I'm going to do all I can to send them out in this world with a deep and real faith in the Lord and an assurance that though they're all grown up and competent, that they have a mom and a dad who love them madly and will always be here for them, even if "here" is a home far, far away.