And then around eight weeks, you are at the end of yourself. You are so exhausted, you’re like, “Where’s my help? Someone let me sleep through the night!” “Hold the baby, rock the baby.” “Bring me food.” It’s time for some help.
I remember meeting my husband at the door. We had really small children. I just was saying like, “Thank God you’re home from work! I’m running.” And here he thinks, “Oh no. I’m dreading going home because my wife is going to meet me at the door with all these kids. I have to go from work to work, and somehow she gets from work to rest.”
Then there is the toddler season that is like, “Oh, you’re so adorable and annoying at the same time!” You can’t go to the bathroom without them sitting on their potty at the same time you are. You can’t go to the bathroom without them knocking, asking questions, pushing stuff under the door, trying to show you things. They want to be where you are.
Then, of course, at four or five years old, they are old enough to ask you zillions and zillions of questions. Whenever you get on the phone, they constantly talk to you, “Oh mom! I need this. I need that. I need this. I need! I need! I need!” They are right in the middle of your business, and when you get off the phone, then they want to go play. You get back on the phone, and then boom. It’s like an alarm. They’re right back at it. You getting on the phone when your kids are awake—it is not going to happen.
There’s that season when you need your baby to nap. You need your child to nap. It’s like, “You cannot fall asleep in the car. Do not fall asleep! I’m going to roll the window down!” So you yell, “What? Stop! Stop! Wake up! Wake up!” Roll the window down. Throw some soft stuff at them. Pop them in the head with some French fries. “Come on! Wake up! Stay awake!” And they fall asleep right when you pull in the driveway. It’s like, “Is it too hot to leave them in the car? Is it too cold to leave them in the car? Okay, I’m going to leave them in the car. They have to finish their nap today because I need my peace and quiet. It is necessary. I need the nap.” And there’s the time where you pad their baby gates, pillows everywhere. You tell them to stay in this room, and you get your face planted into the couch, exhausted and worn out.
Then there are school days, school work and homework, busyness and activities. You spend a good majority of your season driving them from place to place—activities, play dates, and meeting in the mall when they are little. When they are older, you drop them off at a friend’s house, and then their friends are dropped off at your house. You’re cleaning up popcorn on the floor, vacuuming behind them, and saying, “Clean up. Please clean up your stuff. Clean up your own little mess.”
Then they get old enough to start wanting to meet at, say, a coffee shop or some place in the middle. “Can I be dropped off early so I can have this social time? What about youth group? How early can you drop me off? I want to be there early.” You start getting a little bit less and less of their time. They are having sleepovers, spending the night, and wanting to be around their friends.
Before you know it, you are riding with them, and they are driving. They are driving everywhere. They want to be in the car with you. They don’t miss an opportunity. The year before, they’re like, “Ah, I’ll just stay at home. You go ahead and take everyone.” Now, they want the experience, to practice to drive. So they are with you hours and hours of the day. They go everywhere with you to drop off every kid. They want to drive. They want to be with you.
You have all these great car times, and you are intimately bonding. Your hearts are connecting. But they are actually beginning the disengagement process, the weaning process. They are riding with you for a purpose. It is so they don’t have to ride with you anymore. They are memorizing roads and getting ready to get off on their own.
Right before they get ready to leave you, they basically amp up their time with you. It’s in the car. It’s sweet; it’s intimate. It’s this really awesome time with them, and then all of a sudden, it’s just cut off. It’s gone. They are driving now. It’s like, “Hey, I don’t have to leave. Mom doesn’t have to ride with you.” “Oh, you’re going to go pick up your friend and do what? What time will you be back?” That weaning process begins. And it’s hard.
It’s crazy how with children our hearts are on our sleeves. You think the days when they are little and you are not sleeping or the days when they are exhausting, eating Cheerios and dropping chocolate milk on the floor, are long. They are long days, but they are fleeting years. I remember my neighbor, she said, “Don’t wish it away. Enjoy every moment. It’s gonna go by so fast you’re not even gonna know. It’s just going to be gone before you know it.”
I can’t believe I’m about to have a senior in high school and about to have a girl graduate who wants to move away and has plans, desires, and hopes. I can’t believe I’m here. After all of those exhausting years and the days of saying, “No problem,” when she spilled milk four times, I can’t imagine how much I have invested in my kids and how much I have loved and enjoyed every moment, and now I have to let them go. I have to let them grow up. I have to let them pursue their dreams. I have to let them start their own family.
I am on my knees, praying, “God, protect them when I am not here. God, direct their steps. God, bring them home. Give them the desire to come and visit me. Don’t let me be that parent who throws guilt trips on their kids and makes them come out of obligation. But bring them to me because they have a heart’s desire to see me and to know me.”
Man, after all those awesome years of having them in your lap, reading to you, the years of snuggling, and the days they would cuddle and kiss your lips, get slobber all over you, and hug you with their little noses rubbing against your neck—it’s so quick before those days are gone. They’re big and all grown up. They fly out of the nest. They don’t truly need you that much anymore. All you are left with is being an influence when they ask and when they need it. You are just left with, “How much impact did I make, and did I do it right?” You just have to let them go, let them fly or sink.
Father, I thank You for these beautiful blessings You have allowed me to raise. I pray, Father, they would soar because they choose You and ride on Your wings, in Jesus’ name, amen.