My sweet teenage daughter stood in my doorway at 10 pm. I was ready to rest, relax, and entertain my brain after a long day. Love story in hand, I was at peace. Then she dropped a bomb on me, “Mom, I just found out I had to be at the church tomorrow at 4 pm.”
I had already filled out my “To-do” list for the next day, and every time slot had something in it. Errands. Pay bills. Work in garden. Make dinner. Send emails. There was no entry that read, “Drive daughter 30 minutes across town at 4 pm.” My plans disrupted, I could feel all the muscles in my back begin to tense. There went relaxation.
We took my daughter, Hannah, for her 2nd year of college on Tuesday of this week. I wrote two posts when I took her to college as a freshman in 2016 – one that I posted, and one that was too personal for us to publish. Now, after a year has passed, I’ve updated it, and we are ready. This is what it was like for me on the day that I had to let my daughter go.
I woke up early, the sound of the noisy hotel room air conditioner stirring me to wakefulness. I hadn’t been awake for long before the realization of “the day” hit my consciousness. With a groan, I felt the heaviness settle once again upon my soul. It was the day that a child often longs for and a mother dreads and it comes in a variety of ways.
It was the day to let my daughter go.
I stuffed the tissue in my pocket knowing that the inevitable was about to happen. As much as I wanted to create a stalling tactic and pause time, I only had a few more minutes with my 19 year old son until I had to tell him goodbye. He was leaving us for a nine week summer job that was five hours away from home. I asked him to find a summer job, and he did. I should have said to find a summer job closer to home!
This is his first time living away from home, and what makes this farewell different than others is we weren’t sure if this day would ever happen. When my son was three years old, he was diagnosed with autism, and all of our hopes and dreams for him were suddenly up in the air.
I spent a recent morning looking through scrapbooks. I made the scrapbooks when my children were little because I needed something to look forward to at the end of the day. I was a stay-at-home mommy to two toddlers that were 20 months apart, and every night at 9 pm, after they were put to bed, I scrapbooked. I eventually completed about thirty scrapbooks. I desperately needed that creative outlet.
Today is a bittersweet day – I am surprised that I am crying. It is the day that I will tell you goodbye and the day that I will take home a new vehicle. I’ve entered a new season of life – my teenage children are both in college. I’m sad to see you go but happy for a new change. I didn’t want to let you go without taking a moment to let you know what you mean to me.
Beth Moore Bible studies are always life-changing for me. Somehow the way she leads us through Bible passages and then asks heart-provoking questions leads me to truth. In my Entrusted study of 2 Timothy, we looked at how Paul served God with a clear conscience and how Jesus’ sacrifice for us enables us to have a clear conscience, too. And then Beth asked if there was an area where we had a guilty conscience.
I do. It’s a heavy burden that I have carried around for nineteen years, from the day when I refused to nurse my newborn son because I had postpartum depression. The staggering load that has weighed me down is mommy guilt.
Yes, mommy guilt.
For 20 years, my family has been on a journey that is different than most families. My husband and I were young and in love, and the natural consequence of young love is children. So at the age of 25, I gave birth to a precious baby boy. That boy was very precocious and he amazed everyone with his giftedness. No joke, he was reading before he was out of diapers, but he also had social and communication delays that concerned us. When he was three years old, we contacted our school system and had him evaluated. He was amazing and gifted, they told us, but they also told us that he had autism.
For years I have known that the day would come…the day that I would take my baby girl, my only daughter, to college. I used to count how many years until the day, then months, and then weeks. Now I’m counting days. I wasn’t sure how I would handle it, but now that it is here, I’m finding that I’m handing it okay. As long as I don’t think of “the lasts.”
I have a sweet elderly friend that I met when I used to deliver Meals-On-Wheels. Her name is Frances but the children and I lovingly dubbed her, “Miss Frances.” Over the past ten years I have watched Miss Frances age. She transitioned from using a walker to being bedridden to being moved to a nursing home. I no longer deliver Meals-On-Wheels to her home but I deliver cheerful happiness to her in her nursing home every month. And I gain so much in return.
Miss Frances is now 102 year old and she has two living sons and one who has gone to be with Jesus. She does not have any daughters to visit her, so when I visit, I dress to the hilt. I put on my flashiest shirt (sequins are great) and pile on my loudest jewelry. Sometimes I add extra jewelry in the parking lot before I go in. Miss Frances loves to see my outfit, touch my jewelry, and comment on my hair. She’s commented on other aspects of my body (including my bra size) and she’s given me sex advice. She is a hoot.
I am honored to present to you a guest post from by my friend, Amber Thornton. She and her husband Michael gracefully model “thankfulness.” So I asked her to blog about it. Enjoy. ~Lisa
Sometimes, you have to dig deep. Real deep.
You know. Those days when the dawn breaks, and it feels like it’s breaking you? The screams of laughter from your loud, but chipper, children in the next room greet you with a sigh as your eyes attempt their opening.
“Can I parent today?” I think to myself.