Seasons of Motherhood

You have a newborn baby you love to hold and let them sleep in your lap. It’s such a sweet time!

And then around eight weeks, you are at the end of yourself. You are 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 driving 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 gonna 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 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 and they 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 just 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 I have to let them go. I have to let them grow up and 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 just big and all grown up. They fly out 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. 

Someday Your Feet Will Be Carried, Too

Youth is celebrated.

Yet, everyone ages.
Everyone dies.

A new, baby tree is so cute and beautiful. It’s flexible; it bends to the ground in a heavy wind. Its short, unable to see the horizon over older trees. The bark is youthful and smooth, without many marks or deep grooves. The bright-green, tender leaves are small and dainty.
The older tree climbs far above the new tree. The trunk is thicker. The bark is rough and deeply grooved. It’s apparent that it has had much wear and tear over the years. The trunk is strong and stable. Its branches can hold the weight of climbing children and homemade swings. It can stand firm through strong winds. It towers over the other trees, giving it a perspective many others cannot see. Its leaves are dark and thick, veiny and tough, even coarse. Each mark and groove tells a story of a storm weathered, a season endured.
My precious grandma stayed in a nursing home. My daughter said, “Mom, nursing homes are like orphanages for old people. They are mostly alone, with visitors few and far between. People come in for an hour to visit once in a while, and then they’re gone again.” It crushed her heart.

Youth is idolized in our nation, and older people are devalued. 

Getting old isn’t glamorous. 
What’s the …

Newest trend?
Most youth-restoring moisturizer?
Coolest thing to wear?
Latest diet?

People look to plastic surgery to lift it, tuck it, change it, keep it youthful.
Everyone wants to stay young. But it’s in growing that we gain wisdom to live by and share. It’s the storm survival that makes us like that tall, sturdy tree. Our marks are testimony to our endurance. We gain perspective and can have peace in the storm because we know we will make it through, even if we lose everything. We know there’s a circle of life and we are just a tiny part of it.
The life that once seemed larger than life when we really thought we were somebody now seems so small, like we haven’t left enough of a mark.
Will anyone remember me?
How long until I am forgotten?
What more could I have done?
All those years I wasted, believing I was invincible.

Everyone ages.
Everyone dies.

Someday your feet will be carried, too.
One day you will be like the very people you see no value in now. You may end up alone in a nursing home, wondering whether anyone will remember who you are in 100 years.
When you are on your next trip in nature, remember to look at the trees. The most beautiful ones are large and weathered, with the thickest trunks and intricacies in every branch. Their leaves are larger than your hands. Their branches stretch to the heavens.
That same stunning beauty can be found in the wrinkle lines, spotted hands, thick trunk, and hunched back of an elderly person. They carry their stories in their bodies and their minds. They will mesmerize you if you just ask.
Just ask.
Maybe you will find some wisdom to help your tiny new leaves weather some future storms.

You know they’re coming.