That’s roughly how many days my oldest son lived in my home before he up and went to “adult”. That’s 201,480 hours that I considered him “mine”. As I listened to him grab a few last minute items from the bathroom and gather his shoes from the entryway at 12:30 am before heading back to “his place” (after a very long day of loading and unloading the moving van), I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that, at this precise moment, there had been a permanent shift… the beginning of what so many refer to as the ’empty nest’. Our family, as we know it, will never be the same. I’ve been telling myself for months that I’m ready, or at least trying to be ready, for this moment–and when it is upon me I realize… I’m so not ready. I’ll never be “ready” for it because… I am a mother.
Suddenly, all I see is a 5lb. baby boy wrapped in a hospital blanket resting in my arms and he’s “mine” – and I love him with a love so fierce that I am willing to do anything and become anyone so that he will know that love in his life. Suddenly, I’m second guessing EVERYTHING. Did I do a good enough job raising him? Does he really know how much I love him? Is he really prepared??? Wait– he needs a can opener, a dust pan and… OH Lord, protect him with every step… and tell him to come back if he needs to….he can always come back, right???
Who decided this was the way it was supposed to be? That they should just grow up and LEAVE? I’m secretly tempted to blame his father, his amazing father who loves him just as much as I do, but he is partly responsible for all this independent thinking. What are the four stages of grief- because I think I am experiencing all of them at once. My brain is struggling to comprehend the fact that I will need to go through this all over again with each child who yet remains in our home and I can clearly see that all rationality is apparently gone in this moment.
And the tears… the corny, sentimental, flowing faucets I SWORE I’d keep to a minimum… not happening. Buckets my friend, Buckets.
No one told me this “moving out thing” could outright kill me. At least that’s what it kinda feels like. It’s killing my pride, my reliance on my own efforts to raise a perfect human being. It’s killing the puffed up notion that I alone can keep that boy safe, that I can cover all the bases to give him the perfect start in life. It’s killing any self-righteousness and mistaken identities about motherhood that I had that are now futile efforts meekly hanging on by a thread.
I know by faith that, through Christ, I can do all the things, but this thing isn’t really something I want to do. This “letting go and letting God”… This trusting that God’s got him better than I ever did… This “it’s time to stand on the Word and trust that it won’t come back void” thing. It’s easy to talk about and preach about until it’s time to do it. My heart starts to beat a little harder now: Father, be with him in the lonely place. Father, protect him from harm. Father, remind him of Your Word. Father, give him wisdom, give him good godly friends, and a church to call home… give him good deals so he can save money, give him favor so he can succeed, tell him to call home once in a while, to come visit once in a while… give him love Lord… so.much.love.
My head swirls with lists of the things I forgot to tell him- things I know he will need, recipes I need to write down so he will know the right way to make them like I did at home for him… scriptures I want him to keep handy and emergency contacts I hope he will never need.
8,395 days of close watchfulness, daily check-ins, conversations, and care. 201,480 hours of teaching, training, praying, fighting and love needs to be “enough” right now. Lord, let it be enough right now. Somewhere, in the deep crevices of my mama-heart I KNOW that God is faithful, it’s just taking my head a little longer to catch up.
His Eyes have always “seen” so much better than mine anyway.
His Hands have always “held” so much better than mine anyway.
His Voice “speaks” so much better than mine and will continue to speak much longer than I ever will.
I have treasured these 8,395 days and now, God’s got the remainder of his days ordered.
And I will rest in that.
Ruth van den Brink says
My eldest left home this year too and I can relate to much of this. And yet, my struggle sometimes is in wondering why I don’t shed tears and worry. That isn’t the personality God gave me. I do love him fiercely though and I pray all the same things you do. Isn’t it a precious thing to know that we can entrust these special ones back to the One who placed them in our arms. I have pointed him to Christ and now I get to walk alongside him as he figures out what a personal adult faith looks like.
It’s a whole new level of trust, isn’t it Ruth? I am so grateful to have the Lord through all of it! It’s been a few weeks now and I find myself praying more and worrying less, praise the Lord! But that first night… I don’t think I slept more than 30 minutes, lol!
I’m not a mother, so I can’t quite relate. But, I do still live at home with my parents and my siblings. It’s about that time where the majority of us are at least thinking about getting our own place (whether that happens soon, though, is up to God). Either way, I was just thinking about how my own mother would handle it. And I’m sure your exact words will be her exact words. It’s very, very clear you love your children. It shines through to me and I’m sure your children bask daily in the light of your love. While your son may not be with you in person every day, you can bet he feels your love and His love daily, too.
Cassie, what a sweet way to look at it! I love how you are being mindful of your mama, I can see that you are very loved. Thank you for your thoughts, such a blessing!
My girl is off to college next yeah. The buckets are coming!
Aaawww, I will say a prayer for you mama!
Liz Rigby says
Oh my goodness, my boys are small, but now I’m freaking out!!! You have opened my eyes, but I don’t know if I’m actually grateful haha ?
Aawww mama! No freaking out, okay? Just enjoy your time with your babies because it truly flies by! Blessings to you!