Posted in Childhood, Motherhood

Parenthood (The Constant Return to Advent)

“Advent is for the ones who know longing.”
“Tis the Season.”
(Mom utters with eyes rolling while corralling child hyped up on the latest candy cane-induced sugar high)

“Tis the Season.”
(Dad pronounces with pride brimming watching high schooler dance in holiday pageant)

“Tis the Season.”
(Parents cry waiting for any hopeful news of their adult child living on the streets with addiction)

“Tis the Season” is right!

A season filled with wonder, joy, hope and generosity.

A season also filled with waiting, anticipating, yearning, the pleading question “is it all going to be okay?”

This is the howl of Advent.
Christmas Morning is the answer to that question.

The entire journey of parenting feels a lot like Advent.

In fact, it starts with the womb, nine months of waiting, anticipating, yearning, the Question, “WILL THEY BE OKAY?”

Our precious baby is born and for a moment when the doctor says, “All is well,” we burst with joy and wonder, waves of relief flooding our hearts as the question is answered.

“Yes, they are going to be okay.”

Advent quiets. Christmas Morning arrives.

Until…

We arrive home, alone with this human we are responsible to feed and care for, keep alive and healthy. We wake in the dark, tiptoe over to the bassinet and put our hands on their backs or our fingers under their teeny noses to see if they are breathing.

The Question arises again, “are they going to be okay?”
Advent returns.

This constant returning to Advent, to the Question, permeates parenthood.

WILL THEY BE OKAY???

Will they choke on that bagel?
Will they make friends in their class?
Will they learn to read?
Will they score a goal?
Will they have a seat in the lunchroom?
Will they tell us the truth about that party?
Will they drink and drive?
Will they get into a good college?
Will they struggle with loneliness?
Will they meet someone who loves them?
Will they make enough money?
Will they be a good mom or dad?
Will they have a happy marriage?

WILL THEY BE OKAY???

Advent grieves broken places that are yet to be healed, questions that have no answer today and yearning that is unfulfilled.

BUT (and it’s a big BUT), Advent also speaks the hope of an answer at the end of a long season of waiting, a Christmas Morning to come.

But as parents (whether our child is 2, 22 or 42), we wait, always returning to the Question. Wondering if there is an answer to the burning doubt inside.

WILL THEY BE OKAY? Really OKAY?

Is there a Christmas Morning for us, for our children who we love so tenderly and so dearly?

Not too long ago, I was in the middle of a long period of Advent with one of my kids, asking and asking the Question. It was nearly impossible to see any glimmer of hope on the horizon, near or distant.

The waiting was long. I fell into a bleak and dreary place.

The Question engulfed me until I asked an ever scarier one:

WHAT IF THEY ARE NOT OKAY? What then?

Just when I needed it (or more likely, when I was able to hear it), a gentle Voice spoke into my heart, clear as the air on a crisp Spring day.

“Even if the unspeakable happens, even if their treasured life comes to an end, they will be with Me, enveloped in My unfathomable love. They will be perfectly safe.”

Further words came after that I had so longed for:

“THEY WILL BE OKAY! REALLY OKAY!”

And then, when I thought it was over, the same kind Voice gave the answer to an even deeper question I had not even asked:

“AND SO WILL YOU, MAMA.”

The sigh of my soul was almost audible, as I collapsed into the knowing place that no matter what, even if all questions are answered with a NO, the Question is answered always with a YES.

Advent always ends with Christmas Morning.

Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Motherhood

Relax, Mom! (how the heck can I?)

“Relax, Mom.”

My LEAST favorite phrase that graces the mouths of my kids.

It usually comes when I am in a tizzy, overcome with fear about something that’s out of my control.

“Mom, can I go to this party (far away with people you don’t know)?”
“Mom, I just rear-ended someone.”
“Mom, I have this weird rash.”

“Relax, Mom.”

In the middle of all the fret and freak out, it’s the last thing I want to hear.

Instead, I totally want to hang on to my anxiety and use it to gain control over whatever is in front of me.

[Secret reveal: it doesn’t work. The more control I try to take, the greater my fear and panic. I can’t just “relax.”]

I’m not a big “throw a Bible verse out there and hope it sticks somewhere somehow.”

But there’s this one that turned this whole “relax” nonsense on its lovely head.

It’s simple and not simple at the same time.

“Cast all your anxieties on Him…”

[I looked it up, being the nerd I am.]

“Cast” means to “fling something with great force” and it indicates “onto the back of some beast of burden.”

My precious body is not designed to carry the weight of fret and freak out.
My aching back and my clenched jaw are proof.

BUT my days are still filled with hard stuff that is just too much for me (and my fragile central nervous system).

What am I, the fret-and-freak-out mom, to do?

I’m not good with “relax,” but I am really good with “fling” whatever whenever onto God’s “shoulders.”

Sounds perfect to me. Good riddance.

But why should I, the fret-and-freak-out mom, do this?

Plain and simple answer. One I can get on board with.

…BECAUSE He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

[I looked this up too.]

This word “care” implies “deep affection” and “meticulous attention.”
God’s not only highly aware and taking notice, but has utter tenderness for me and the heavy loads I am carrying.

It’s a good thing God doesn’t say “relax” to me like my kids do.

That would probably just amp me up even more.

Instead, He’s so gently reminds me,

“Take whatever load you’ve got on your back and fling it with all your might onto mine. I will carry it for you. You know why? Because I care deeply for you.”

EXHALE.

Maybe I can “relax” a little bit after all.

Posted in Family, Grief, Motherhood

For the Mom Whose Kid is Hurting

The back door opens. It’s late.

I’m awake because that’s just how it is as a mom. No sleep until every child of mine is home safe.

My recent college grad walks into the family room where I lay on the couch, eyes heavy.

“We broke up, Mom.”

I bolt upright, dumbfounded. I can’t compute the words I hear.


This boy of mine and his girlfriend have been together since they were kids.

Seven years.

Tears form in his green eyes.

I don’t know what to do. I haven’t seen him cry since he was little.

This is a girl he was going to propose to.
This is a girl I love. Her picture hangs on our family photo wall.

I want to fix it, make him okay.

I am sad. I am angry.

I want to send her a “please love my boy again” text.
I want to buy him a plane ticket to visit his sister.

My own eyes well up and I offer him the only thing I can: my presence.

This is how it is now. The older my kids get, what they need comforting for or help with are not things I can do much about,

I can’t make people like them.

I can’t (and shouldn’t) fight on their behalf for a grade or a promotion at work.
I can’t force someone to want to spend the rest of their lives with them.
I can’t stop the world from hurting them.

What am I to do?

Offer my presence.

In simple ways.

Answer their text with a simple “I love you.”
Listen when and if they want to talk.

Take them to a movie, complete with popcorn and candy.
Write a “you’ve got this” note.
Make their favorite cookies.


Remind them I am praying for them.

Offer my presence,

Their lives are going to be filled with problems I can’t solve and pain I can’t take away.

This might be the most difficult part of being a mom. But perhaps it’s also the most beautiful.

By offering my presence, I’m being God (with skin on) to them.

I’m not doing the work that’s theirs alone.

I’m not fixing the dilemmas they find themselves in.
I’m not concocting ways to ensure they are not in pain (try as I might).

I am being with them in the middle of the quagmire.
I am reminding them they are not left on their own.
I am here for them, worrying, trusting, cheering, praying and hoping.

There’s no place I’d rather be.

Posted in Childhood, Family, Motherhood

What was said mom to do?

There once was a nine-year-old who asked her mom for a lacrosse stick. And goggles. And to join a cute team of other nine-year-olds.

 

Which meant cleats and a uniform and driving back and forth to three practices a week and God-knows-how-many games.
 
It made sense. Her older sister played. Her two older brothers played. Lacrosse equipment littered the garage, the kitchen, the trunk of the car and the talk around the table.
 
What was said mom to do?
 


She was exhausted with all the laundry, the cooking, the driving, the homework, the music lessons, the mayhem of motherhood.


 
Said mom, who was awful at making good boundaries and had the illusion she was supermom, responded with “yes.” 


 
She loved sports. And who knows? “Maybe her final child had a chance at the big leagues” (whatever the heck that means when it comes to women’s lacrosse).
 


A fancy stick was purchased.
Along with pink goggles (a two-pack) and black cleats with a pink stripe.
Forms were filled out along with a hefty check written.

Practices were driven to, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Cheering happened at games and mom friendships were formed on sidelines.
 

The little girl loved it.
So did her mom.


 
Year after year, the girl grew and played and grew and played.


 
Fancier sticks.

Bigger goggles.

Straight-up black cleats (no more pink stripe).

Special lessons.

Elite teams.
 
Very very soon (like a minute in mom years), the nine-year-old was donning a nylon mesh pinnie and headed to high school tryouts.


 
After a week of running and catching and dodging and attacking, the news came. She had made Junior Varsity.


 
The not-so-little girl loved it.
So did her getting-older mom.
 


More practices.

More driving.

More special and elite this-and-that.

More money.

More time.


 
News the following tryout year was even better. Varsity as a lowly sophomore. Varsity.
The season was long. And hard.

The coach was rough. And knowledgeable.

The girl was in shape. And very very busy.


 
The big girl loved it less and less.

The couldn’t-wait-for-the-next-game mom loved it more and more.


 
The announcement came one end-of-winter morning.


 
“I’m quitting lacrosse, Mom. I want to focus on my music. I want to help in the church sound booth.”
 
Said mom gathered herself quickly and tempered her aghast look (hopefully).


 
What was she to say? To do?
 


This was not what she wanted. Or expected. This would make her sad. Very sad.


 
“Okay honey. It’s your life and you should do what you want with it. You do you.”


 
That is what she said out loud.

That is what she meant down deep in her heart.

That is what she believed in her mom soul.


 
She wanted this girl to be completely herself and do whatever it takes to find out what that is.


 
But her mom loss was big.
 


The loss of standing on the sidelines, enjoying the crisp spring air, cheering for her girl.

The loss of easy friendships she had long-formed within the lacrosse microcosm.

The loss of her expectation of what her girl might accomplish or be.


 
So said mom who was learning better boundaries and how to take care of herself just a little bit more, gave herself permission to be sad.


 
Just plain old sad.

For a while.


 
You know what?
 
She still really misses all things lacrosse. Very much.

 
She hasn’t gotten rid of the sticks. Not quite yet.
 


But her girl??
Her girl loves music. And sound-board buttons.

And her mom especially loves that her girl found that out.


 
The End. For Now.
Posted in Faith, Family, Motherhood

A Much Bigger Dream

I had one girl and two boys, all under the age of seven.  I was ready to burst, my fourth baby wiggling incessantly inside my pregnant belly, leaving me exhausted and eager to give birth.  I had chosen NOT to find out the gender, but not-so-secretly dreamed of a sister for my oldest.

You see, I was the only girl in a family of three older brothers and always wanted a sister. But no matter how much I pleaded with my mom, no more babies were to be had.

A few days after an awful procedure called an “external version” to flip over my not-head-down baby, I packed my bags and headed to the hospital.  After hours of induced labor, the doctor came rushing in just in time to shout, “IT’S A GIRL!” 

My heart leapt for JOY (her middle name that mirrors my own) and, in that moment, I thought my BIG dream had come true and my earnest prayer answered.

Little did I know that something much BIGGER was on the horizon.

The birth of this baby girl became the very starting point of a now years-long journey of healing for me. I’m still not sure why.

Perhaps it was a fluke.  Or maybe God just knew that I might be ready.

Immediately, her sparkly eyes drew me close, as if she could see right into my soul.
I had never before been able to open my heart without pause.

She was unconditional love wrapped in a tiny package of flesh and bones.
I had never before been able to receive love without restriction.

As she grew, her child-like wisdom shocked me in the best ways.
I had never before been able to move out of formulaic thinking.

KNOWN.
LOVED.
WISDOM.

Three crucial pieces to a puzzle that had long been missing in my life, and that changed it forever.

As I write, this young lady stands on the precipice of a hope-filled future, one that reaches far beyond me.

BUT…

She still sparkles and I feel seen.
She still loves unabashedly and I receive it with JOY.
She still speaks wisdom and I am, again and again, moved toward healing.

My BIG dream did come true that autumn morning, the birth of a sister for my oldest.

But God had a much BIGGER dream for me, an “immeasurably more” kind: the slow, deliberate, continuing and tender mending of my own precious soul.

#doublejoy

Posted in Motherhood

Car Accident

“Please do not drive around in this. There are trees down everywhere. And please do not take your younger brother with you.”

Those were the words I pleaded with my new driver in the hurricane aftermath.

As you might guess, curiosity got the best of him and this “I-am-trying-hard-not-to-control-you-anymore” mama said a prayer as she watched her boys skip out the door and drive away.

Needing a few groceries since we were “out of food” (#alwayshungryteens), I ventured out to the store, gingerly driving around downed branches and wires hanging precariously, wondering if I should have taken my own advice.

On my way back to the car, grocery shopping done, my phone rang.

It was Son One.

“Mom, I got in an accident.”

After saying some not-so-kind things and yelling (just a little) that this was “the exact reason” I didn’t want him going out, I remembered to ask this question, “Are you okay? Is your brother okay?”

He sighed. “Yes, Mom.”

PHEW.

“But my car is not.”

Now came the hard part. How could I get him (and his tag-along brother)? They were more than 10 miles away.

After calling the tow service, I instructed my boys to find a safe(ish) place on the side of the road, far away from all scary wires and dangling branches.

Over two hours later, groceries wilting and melting, my mama’s heart determined to reach her boys (still a little bit angry, I might add), I arrived on the scene.

There they sat, their over six-foot-tall crumpled bodies, heads down, on the grassy slope aside a busy intersection in a strange town.

In that moment, instead of two giant almost-men who had “defied” my very sound mom advice, I saw my two little boys, needing their mom.

Not needing her to yell.
Not needing her to say “I told you so.”
Not needing her to tell them they were “going to reap the consequences” and that “I was not going to pay a dime for the car to be fixed.”

Just needing their mom.

Needing her to scoop them up.
Needing her to show them grace.
Needing her to drive them home, what I want to be the safest space of all.

Safe to make choices.
Safe to make mistakes.
Safe to make “the call.”

Sigh.

P.S. I put a little money in his car accident fund jar. How could I not?

Posted in Motherhood

Decisions. Decisions.

Decisions.
Decisions.

How many thousands of decisions do we have to make as moms?

We want to make all the right ones.

From small things like how much screen time is healthy (if any at all) for our kids to huge ones like how much freedom to give during their teen years.

From easy ones like serving vegetables to difficult ones like whether or not we should make them eat them.

From simple ones like what to send for lunch to highly complicated ones like whether they should get counseling for very troubling behavior.

Constant decisions bombard us, many we are just not prepared for.

Add some out-of-our-control factors in and boy-oh-boy, we’re thrown for a loop or paralyzed like a deer caught in some high beams.

So what are we moms to do? Where can we turn for help?

I’ve been thinking and wondering and have a half-thought, if you will bear with me. (A half-thought is where I am landing right now in the answer to a particular question. It could change in the future, so I hold it very loosely.)

Here we go!

I can’t think of a single situation where WISDOM isn’t a very welcome companion when making all the thousands of choices that come our way, especially on our mom journeys.

Wisdom doesn’t make decisions solely based on feelings or circumstances. As a mom, I tend to do that ALL.THE.TIME. I am consumed and overtaken by immediate circumstances and the feelings that go along with them so much so that they dictate my choices instead of inform them.

Wisdom isn’t reactive and reckless. I’m not sure about you, but my kids stir the pot inside of me and what’s being held in check bubbles to the surface, where a normal, but unhealthy reaction comes blurting out.

Wisdom also isn’t black or white, write or wrong, yes or no. It’s so much easier as a mom to have blanket one-size-fits-all rules, but is it good? Is it wise?

Wisdom, on the other hand, is responsive and comes from a deep well of goodness, from God Himself.

It is a gentle friend that guides us to make insightful, well-thought out, clear-headed, good decisions.

It helps us to hold relationship as more valuable than rules and keeps us grounded, yet malleable in the complexity of the journey we are on.

It feels calm and hopeful, exactly what we need in those fretful mom moments.

No wonder we all wish we had more of it!

Here’s some good news.

Scripture compassionately reminds us that God isn’t stingy with this gift He has inside Himself.

He doesn’t shame us when we don’t avail ourselves of it the way we might. He is gentle with us, reminding us that He promises to give it to us when we just ASK. Simply ASK.

We have loads of decisions ahead of us each day and on this never-ending mom journey. I would hazard a guess that choices on how to navigate this path will continue for our lifetimes.

It sure doesn’t seem to be slowing down for me anytime soon. I need WISDOM every single day in every single choice I make.

But I have to keep reminding myself in this #notetoself:

We have the source of all WISDOM just waiting for us to ASK for it! He wants it for us more than we even want it for ourselves!

Because He has complete understanding of how GOOD it is for us, He can’t wait to generously LAVISH it on us!

LAVISH (v.) – bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities on

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

 

Posted in Faith, Grief, Motherhood

What Kind of World Are My Kids Growing Up In?

What kind of a world are my kids growing up in?

The question that plagued me on that dreadful morning 20 years ago.

I had four little ones scampering around at the time, one toddler half-naked and being potty trained (we all remember exactly what was going on that morning, right?).

Is it a world filled with consuming hate?

ONLY and awful hate?

How would I tell them that their friend’s dad had been killed?

How would I shake my own fear of it happening again and this time it would be their dad who had worked in NYC for most of their young lives?

How? How? How?

How will they know love?

ONLY and wonderful love?

The love that casts out fear in the form of a firefighter saying “I’ve got you. Come with me”?

The love that wins in the end as yellow ribbons don every mailbox for miles and miles and miles for months and months and months?

Today, my big kids are still scampering around, albeit fully-clothed, and the world still often seems consumed with hate.

ONLY and awful hate?

But it’s not true.

It’s not ONLY.

Both hate and love exist, intertwined in all of our hearts.

Along with a million other parts.

Mine. And theirs.

All I have to do is look back at these 20 years to see all the ways hate and love (and a million other parts) have shown up as I’ve raised my fearsome foursome.

They’ve brought harm.
Pain. Heartache.

But also…

They’ve brought joy.
Healing. Hope.

What kind of world are my kids growing up in?

The question that plagued me for a lot longer than that dreadful morning and still does often.

The answer is simple. And also super complicated.

It’s the wonderful, messy, awful, sacred, hateful, loving, broken, brave, and still healing world.

It’s a world filled with us.

Every single one of us.

Posted in Motherhood

Tamed?

“Are we going to see the wild horses?” my not-yet-college-bound, have-to-be-dragged-everywhere, youngest asked.  “You promised.”

We were on a college visit trip with her older brother. 5 colleges in 5 days.

The drive to see these mythical creatures on an exotic island was a

bout an hour out of the way and I was exhausted from tours about professors/safety/dorms and hotel rooms with weird smells/bad breakfasts/non-working hot tubs.

But my memory of the picture on the cover of the book, Misty of Chincoteague, a beautiful wild horse and her foal, drew me in and convinced me to keep said promise.

As we pulled in to the park and made our way to the restrooms before embarking on our glorious, out-of-the-way adventure, signs warned not to feed the horses as they may bite and to ensure our safety by staying 40-feet away. This was exciting!

Bladders empty, we were ready! We couldn’t wait to see these wild creatures, prancing in the sand dunes and uttering high-pitched neighs.

What happened next was stranger than strange.

We rounded the corner and there was a horse, in the middle of the parking lot. Not prancing. Not neighing. Standing. Still. So still, we thought it might be a taxidermist’s latest “stuffing” project.

We got out. Walked around it. It did NOT move. Just stood there. We did see it take a breath, so we surmised it was alive and didn’t belong at the local Cabela’s.

We had so hoped to happen upon a wild, prancing, neighing horse, enjoying the sands of Virginia beaches and its ability to roam FREE.

But what we found was more like a TAMED mule ready to plow the fields under the guise of some master who needed to get things done.

As we ventured on the park pathways, we saw a few more horse-mules milling around, and I can assure you that we were not scared, or excited, not even one little bit.

We got back in our cars and my mom thoughts took off into those mom places only they can go.

Are these horses like my kids?

Longing for adventure, FREEDOM, and curiosity to discover, hope and dream?

But standing around, TAMED, bored and controlled because of how me, as a mom, and society, as a whole, has directed them?

Don’t bite.
Stand still.
Be quiet.

Don’t stand up for yourself (your true self). Fit in.
Do what everyone else is doing. Stay in the box.
Control yourself at all costs. Never color outside of the lines.

College visits.
What everyone else did.
What we were supposed to do.

Over the next days, I kept coming back and back to my thoughts about these horse-mules and my kids.

I did not want them to be mules. I wanted them to be horses. WILD ONES. Not TAMED into submission to some arbitrary set of rules that who knows who made up.

I wanted them to be FREE. To discover, hope and dream.

I talked and talked and talked to them about it. And then talked some more.

Guess what happened?

My college-bound son said, “NOPE.”
He decided to take a gap year.
He enjoyed his senior year without the pressure of choosing.
He never went to any of those 5 we had visited on that trip.
He discovered a school that made his heart happy.
FREEDOM.

My baby watched him intently.
She spent an extra year with him, becoming the best of friends.
When it was her turn, she chose an out-of-the-box school and got her Bachelor’s degree in two years. Two long, hard years.
She moved to California at 19 to pursue her dreams, graduation behind her.
She wants to win an Emmy.
FREEDOM.

Guess what else happened?

I began to wonder the same thing about me.

Do I have the FREEDOM to discover, hope and dream?

As a middle-aged, regular, mom who has always played by the rules?
Who didn’t bite, stood still and was quiet?

The answer: YES. YES I DO.

I might stand up for myself.
What if I forge my own way?
Maybe I will even draw my own lines to color inside.
We’ll see how it all plays out.
It’s going to be good.
FREEDOM.

Posted in Family, Motherhood

Beyond Tired (Exhausted Actually)

There was a mom who was really tired. BEYOND TIRED.

She was counting down the hours to “end” her active parenting.
It had been every day for 25++ years.

She found herself sitting on the floor, covered in empty boxes, about to sleep on a futon that had been through her three other college kids and was now gracing the dorm room of her baby.

She couldn’t believe she was finally here.
But she knew why she was absolutely exhausted. Who wouldn’t be?

She lay awake thinking about ALL.THE.THINGS.

  • Q-tips covered in alcohol carefully for 10 days on each of four babies’ umbilical cords until that gross thing turned black and fell off

  • Shopping with four children under seven (it was like taking four goats to the store…I “kid” you not…get it? get it? I “kid” you not)

  • Sorting legos into bags by color, size and type at least 52 times (to be exact)

  • Playing Ms. PacMan on Nintendo 64 surrounded by eight excited eyes until she beat all the levels and killed the witch

  • Filling out back-to-school forms until her eyes twitched and hands curled up in agony (can’t this be computerized school board?)

  • Packing 180 (# of days in a school year) X 4 (# of kids in her house) X 13 (# of school years) lunches (equals 9,360)

  • Chore charts, memory verse charts, learn-to-pee-and-poop-on-the-potty charts, and behavior charts, all complete with stickers and prizes

  • Watching (or at least hearing from the kitchen) ad nauseam reruns from the Disney Channel, Nick Jr., PBS, Cartoon Network and Netflix

  • Coaching and watching basketball, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, wrestling, field hockey, swimming, track, volleyball, and softball (the records for all of those sports combined probably .500 exactly)

  • Listening to piano, clarinet, bassoon, guitar, and recorders (yikes!)

  • Doctor, dentist, oral surgeon, voice therapist, orthodontist, counselor, ENT, orthopedic surgeon and emergency room visits enough that she should have “frequent shopper cards” (buy 10 visits, get one free)

  • Themed birthday parties each year complete with specialized decorations and games (Pin the Tail on Pikachu anyone?)

  • Graduations from preschool to middle school to high school to college (secretly bored out of her mind, but still taking all the pictures)

  • Driving at least 5 or 6 times the distance of the globe to practices, lessons, youth groups, parties, play dates, school, and girl/boyfriend’s houses

  • 3,247 fights over paper-cup lids, halloween candy, bathroom etiquette (or lack thereof), and on and on and on

  • Teaching (or more true, freaking out in the passenger’s seat) four teens how to drive

  • Moving four kids in and out of college dorms and college apartments (one night she actually slept on bath mats…the softest thing she could find in said child’s off-campus apartment)

You can see why she was wiped out. W-I-P-E-D out!

A couple of days later, back home snug in her bed, hoping to finally get some much-needed sleep, she patted herself on the back for a mom job well done.

As she headed off to dreamland at the luscious hour of 10 pm, her phone DINGED, the familiar tone reserved for her blessed four.

It was a text from her college junior. “Mom, can you help? I need to figure out how to switch a class.”

She quickly responded, telling him he needed to wait until the morning.

“Okay Mom. Love you.”

“Love you too. We’ll figure it out.”

Five minutes later, another DING, same familiar tone.

Slightly annoyed, she checked to make sure all was well with whoever was now texting.

Her recent college graduate was sending a note from the kitchen.“Mom, where are the spatulas?”

She told him which drawer. He said he already looked there. She unwrapped herself from her cozy covers and walked down the long flight of stairs. She opened said drawer. It was right there, hiding in plain site.

“Thanks Mom. Love you.”

“Love you too. Good night. Please clean up after yourself.”

She marched herself right back up those stairs, slipping back under her covers and shutting her heavy lids. Sleep came quickly.

DING! DING!

Same tone.

Different child (this time, adult and oldest child living on her own).

“Mom? You up? I’m a wreck. Can’t sleep. My roommate is being a jerk. I think I should move out. What do you think I should do?”

She pressed #2 on speed dial.

After 45 minutes of listening and listening and listening and then more listening, the two of them said the same words to each other since forever.

“Love you to the moon, Mom.”
“And I love you all the way to the moon and back again, Peanut.”

She was now fully awake. She tossed and turned and tossed and turned.

The clock had struck midnight and her restless legs were acting up.

LOVELY.

She peed.
She turned her pillow over to the cool side.
She prayed.
She stared into the darkness.
She irritatingly glanced at her fast-asleep spouse, mouth agape.

DING! again.

“WHAT NOW? WHO NOW?”

It was her baby.

“Mom, I love you. And miss you. Sorry if I woke you up.”

She answered pronto.

“Love you too, honey. And miss you like crazy!”

She laid her head back on her not-cool-enough pillow, closing her eyes tight. Wise words from an older mom friend echoed in her mind, and she understood them just a little bit better.

“This parenting gig never ends, because love never ends.”

She drifted off (FINALLY) to a sweet sleep, all phones quiet.

As she woke in the morning, her mom body ached a little and she was still tired, exhausted actually, but her mom heart, just like every day for 25++ years, was full to the brim.