28 May Mourning the changes
What are you looking forward to?
Three more days of school and my eleven years of walking children to the bus every morning will be over. Once the kids are in middle school, moms don’t make an appearance at the bus stop. My youngest will be a sixth grader in the fall, which is ridiculous considering she was born just yesterday.
The elementary bus runs an hour and a half behind the middle and high school bus. So, come August, all three of my babes will leave at seven in the morning.
I have been looking forward to having all three of my kids on the same schedule. Planning my work and writing hours will be simpler. I envision myself using the hour and a half every morning productively. I could exercise, or clean the house, or write. I could grocery shop or have coffee with the husband. I could work earlier hours. I could do more Bible study or keep in better touch with friends. Wow, the possibilities… (I’ll probably do nothing productive, but that’s another post.)
Another anticipated change in our home comes this summer when my oldest child is due to get her driver’s license. This is a game changer! Assuming she has a vehicle to drive, I will be saved from late-night trips to retrieve her from her friends’ houses. She will be able to drive to and from work on her own. Youth group meetings, dance classes, musical practices – these are all places to which she’ll be able to transport herself. One evening last week, I was in the van for almost two hours and was never more than five miles from my home. Between our three kids and our exchange student, my trusty minivan gets a lot of use.
This morning when I pondered these two fast-approaching milestones, my heart beat a little faster and sweat droplets formed on my brow. Wait a minute! Why am I getting anxious? These are good things!
When a big change comes, I want to go back for a do-over. (Insert a screeching tire sound here as I try to throw life into reverse.)
Oh my gosh! I scream in my head. Everything is changing and I forgot to appreciate things the way they were! (Insert an image of me stomping my feet in a toddler tantrum here.) I want life to stop and stay as perfect as it is right this minute! Please!?!
This outburst of emotion is the result of me coming to terms with reality. I’m going to have to let go of some things.
When my baby and I have that hour and a half alone together every morning before school, we talk. We eat together. We watch shows (right now, we’re working our way through DVDs of Full House from the 90s). We listen to Adventures in Odyssey while coloring with gel pens. This is all going away! I won’t have her to myself anymore!
When the big one can drive by herself, I’m going to lose a piece of her, I just know it! I learn so much about her and her friendships while we ride in the van together. She decompresses after events. She sings. She rants. We sing together. When will I learn what’s going on in her world, if not when driving home from something? What if she stops sharing with me? I want to be the one who hears her rants! I want to be her go-to person!
On a walk around the block a few days ago, my eleven-year-old said that spring is a happy time and fall is sad. We think fall colors are pretty, but what we’re seeing is the death of leaves.
I tried to convince her that since the tree continues to live, we mustn’t cry about the shedding of its leaves. Falling leaves are a part of the growth process of a tree. She didn’t buy it. She still maintains that the death of those leaves is a bad thing.
I told her change is part of life and without the fall and winter, we wouldn’t have the spring and summer.
We’re both right, in a way. It’s always healthy to embrace what’s coming. But it’s important to mourn our losses as well.
With every new phase of life comes the end of another.
Grief isn’t always a giant boulder to be chipped away slowly after a traumatic life event. Sometimes grief is a flittering leaf that tickles our cheek. We scratch the itch. We cry if we need to (it’s okay if we need to). And then we keep walking.
When something precious reaches its end, I am inclined to despair. But I know to keep my eyes searching the trees for the new growth, for the fresh beauty in the stage of life that awaits.
What about you? I’d love to hear wisdom from your experiences with endings and new phases of life. Or are you struggling with an ending? Let’s talk. Leave me a comment. (Or you may always privately email me via my contact page.)
(Photo by Ben Moore)