No one ever told me that the hardest phase of motherhood was letting your babies go when they’re grown. Lots of people had advice for the newborn phase or toddler years or even the era of school-aged children. Each stage had it’s own set of challenges and blessings. There are times during each of those phases that, as a mother, I wondered if we’d all make it out to the other side. No one ever stopped me and said, “Cindy, the hardest part of being Momma will come when they leave the nest.”
We were blessed to have all four of our children in under three years. I loved having them close in age. The three boys were so close, most thought the twins and our youngest were triplets. Because of the timing of birthdays, we always had a year between major events. When the engagements started, I kind of thought we’d have that little bit of cushion between weddings. Ummm….I was wrong. 😉
My kids were all married and out of the nest within nine months of each other. Talk about a shock to this Momma’s system! I went from a bustling household of 6 that always had a few extras thrown in the mix, to being home with just Doug. I loved the extra time with my husband. But if I’m up front with myself and you, I mourned the emptiness of our house. Thankfully at that time, they all lived fairly close…anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes away.
Fast forward to now…
Of our four children, three have children now. (Five treasures so far!) Currently, two live close-by. Two live in different states. One of those is just over the river and close enough that we see them at least weekly. The other lives about 6ish hours away.
Our times together as an entire family are way too spaced out over months. (I am blessed that I have most of our family with us every Sunday for lunch and the afternoon.) When I have the chance to have all fifteen of us together, I’m overjoyed! I want to soak in every moment. So much so that I used to schedule all the days for every visit I could. I found myself wanting or almost needing to entertain them all. There are still times I fall into that trap. But lately, while I plan some of the time for us to all be together, I tend to let the weekends flow how they will. My kids need time to be with each other. My boys need time to just chill with each other. While I WANT to spend every possible moment with our son and his wife when they come in from Georgia, I know they need time with others, too. But goodness, how I love when they’re all HOME, our driveway is full, our home is loud, and my heart is overflowing!
The hard part is ALWAYS watching them pull away as they head home. Just thinking back to this morning brings tears to my eyes. Selfishly, I want all of our family to live near us. But I’m reminded of something a dear friend told me when all our kids were getting married at once. She said, “Momma, this is what you’ve prayed for their entire lives!” (I did NOT pray for them to live far away. Actually, I prayed for them to live close! I know, I know…there’s that selfish thing again.)
One of the constants of this thing called motherhood was (and is) praying for each of my kids. I have journals full of prayers…general prayers for all four of them, specific prayers for each of them. My Bible has their names written throughout as a verse struck me with how it applied to whatever they were going through. Prayers for their salvation. Prayers for their safety. Prayers they’d each find a Christian spouse who loved the Lord more than anything. Prayers for jobs. Prayers for health. Prayers for friendship struggles. Prayers for the blessing of children. I could go on and on. And as I said above in complete honesty, prayers that were on the selfish side like for them to be close to us…physically and emotionally.
So today when I look at our empty driveway, when our house is quiet, and my heart aches just a bit, I’ll remind myself that I prayed for each of them to live fully the lives God calls them to live. And THAT is just what each of them are working to do each day.