On May 19 of this year, my second son had his preschool graduation. And on that night, I smiled and laughed as I watched him sing and do actions to sweet little songs, then promptly teared up when he later handed me a carnation while an old Michael W. Smith song (targeted at mushy moms like me) played in the background.
Alright I fought back ugly tears. To the point that I had to push my husband’s hand away from me because his sympathetic arm around my shoulders while trying to contain my sadness was only adding to my ridiculous tears.
As it turns out, that night was 93 days ago. And I exaggerate not when I say at some point during every one of those 93 days, there has been a moment when I have looked at my second son and felt a twinge of sadness knowing he would be starting Kindergarten in the fall.
And who knows WHY or better yet WHEN I had time to find this sadness given that this was my first summer at home with all four of my boys. Meaning the composition of most of our days was 2 parts chaos, 3 parts crazy with a large helping of fun mixed in beneath a heavy layer of energy.
But some how, some way in the moments that I wasn’t having to hold my eyes open, I would use those moments to look at him and miss him, while he was standing in front of me…yes. It’s been a little sick.
Which had me worrying, do I really just like to torture myself? I mean shouldn’t I be looking forward to doing daily errands without having to drag four, shoeless, hungry, begging-for-candy participants in and out of stores that I think I love until I have them all with me?! (FYI: There’s no better way to cure yourself of a Homegoods addiction than to take your four sons in there with you…just sayin’.)
And yes, this son has always been a breath of fresh air since I first held him in the hospital, but it’s not that I can’t see he’s also ready to do something more with his brain than wrap an entire roll of paper towels around his body then try and walk around the kitchen without falling. He did this yesterday if you’re wondering.
But I think what I have realized in my 93 days of grief is that I’ve already become all too aware how fast *it* goes. And by *it* I mean those years of having young ones at home. It’s not about him starting Kindergarten. It’s about the fact that one day I will have no children left in grade school, middle school or high school. And that my time as their main influencer will have come and gone. And I will look back and realize the phase of life I thought was so hard will always be the phase I hold dearest in my heart.
This thought helps me understand why old people stop me in the grocery store and feel the need to say, “Honey, enjoy it. It goes so fast.” I don’t even need for people to say that to me anymore. I find myself wanting to say it to my friends. (Whose kids are older than mine.) “Enjoy your teenager because before you know it, they’ll be in college.” I yell this as I chase my toddler through a parking lot to a random mother and son loading up in a car next to me. And they stare back bewildered since I have no teens with me.
My grief may also be magnified because I had my youngest son four months ago and dare I admit I struggle to remember holding him as a newborn? Thank goodness for the 3,000 pics on my phone from his first months of life and a phone that can hold 30 pics from the same pose squared. So I can remember what he looked like before he became the perfect ball of squishy chunk that he is now that nine months from now I will struggle to remember as I’m chasing him all over my house.
The truth is. My son starting kindergarten reminds me that one day he will be big. And while I know that to be true, I’ve only known him to be little. And sometimes it’s just hard to acknowledge that God created him for far more than the toddler I have on my hip while I cook a gourmet dinner of mac and cheese in the kitchen. And that my job as a parent is not to keep my sons near but to prepare them to fly one day when they’re cooking their own mac and cheese in college in what I imagine will be a nasty boy kitchen.
My goal is to lead them close enough to Jesus so that one day when I’m no longer around they can grab a hold of Jesus with comfort and with ease and confidently know that HE is there for them through everything. More than I ever have been. Or could be.
So today, as I prepare to send my second son off for his career in school, I offer up a prayer for all parents of littles out there. Please use it to lift your little ones up before God as they begin another school year.
As this new school year begins, I’m loaning my child over to you. Alright, alright. I know they have been yours from the start. But let me just say, thank you God for loaning this child to me. Thank you so much. They are the best part of my life.
Lord, I recognize my sadness about them starting school is really about trust. Do I trust you to take care of them? And the honest answer to this is…not always. But I want to. Because I know you are trustworthy. So today, I ask that you help me put my trust in you because you will never do anything but prove that you can be trusted to keep them safer than I ever could.
Lord, today help me to feel peace to know that when I ask that you put your hand around their shoulder and lead them step by step and day by day of this coming year, that without even asking, your hand has been on them before my hands had the chance to hold them. And the only one that has truly left their side is me, not you. And you never will.
Lord, today I ask that you reveal their special innate gifts to me. And I ask that you help me foster those gifts to grow and strengthen. I ask that I support the gifts they possess that will one day allow them to make their mark on this world. And let me never forget that you have a plan for their life. Because let’s be real. I’m not the only person you’ve intended for them to impact for the better.
Lord, I pray that my child develops Godly character. I pray that they stay out of filth and evil. And cling to what is good and pure. Let them stand strong when evil surrounds them. And let them have confidence to love the ones that need love and to never be the bully but to be one that shines love. Equally protect them from those who may bully them. Let your light shine through them.
Lord, I pray that you provide several quality friends for my child. I ask that some of the friendships they form can last into adulthood and not stop at school.
Lord, let me never forget that my greatest job is not to raise them to make it through today, but to be prepared for what their future holds. The world may have bad, but it is not all bad because you are in it. And you have created them to help make it bright. So let me lead them to you. So they can grow strong in you, more than I could ever imagine.
In this big world, Lord. Help them to shine brightly.
In Jesus’ Name.