When our children leave the nest I believe we all think in the back of our minds, they will now realize how much they really need us.
But, who needs who more? Is it really our children who will realize how much they need us, or rather is it us who will realize how much we need them?
For me, it is an easy answer. Indeed, my children need me, but I don’t think they realize how much I need them.
The Lord blessed me with two pairs (two girls and two boys), and I count my blessings daily. There are no words within me to describe how much they mean to me. They make up the four corners of my world. Not to say we don’t have frustrating moments, but they bring me more joy than anything I could ever imagine.
When my husband got diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and my second daughter left for college shortly after, it was almost harder than when my first daughter left the nest. I know in part it was because she went 1200 miles away to school, and her dad had just been diagnosed with a horrible disease. I was uncertain how often I would see her, and I knew I was going to miss having a daughter in the house. I was now going to be living with three males, and that seemed like a heavy load of testosterone.
She and I talked on the phone often, and my older daughter came home to visit every month. We managed that first year the best we could.
It started off with a multitude of challenges having to travel to the cancer center more than two hours away for several weeks. We were navigating an unwelcome addition to our lives with a cancer diagnosis, not knowing at times what it meant for our family’s fate. It was hard being away from my boys a week at a time, in order to be with their dad during treatments. I missed having my girls by my side. My nest seemed to be falling apart, and the only comfort I felt was knowing my children, all four of them, had each other.
The holidays rolled around, the girls were back home and, there appeared to be some sense of normalcy in our home. But, their dad was fighting an infection, and I knew in a few short weeks I would relive the agony of them leaving for college again. When it was time for the girls to head back to school, I felt it in my heart. I love my boys more than any other momma, but girls and boys are divergent. We have different relationships.
My husband, still battling cancer, took up much of my time. It wasn’t easy, and that was another adjustment. I fought off the depressed days, the anxiety, the stress…barely. I found myself mourning my old life, wishing for the days when the children were younger, praying for no illness.
Summer soon came and once again life reverted back to some of what it used to be. The girls were home, and I had my two pairs. All my many blessings.
By the end of summer, it was time to return to school, and the cancer returned as well. That year was just as hard as the previous one, maybe harder.
We managed to get through it, and in some odd ways the adjustments became easier. I prayed to God daily for strength to get us through.
Fast forward two years until last summer, and my oldest son left for college. It has been the strangest of times, leaving another emptiness inside my heart. Raising four children has been my life, and now there is only one remaining in the house. My lifelong job, nearing its end, as I have always known it. And, there is nothing I can do about it except hide my helplessness.
Why do they grow up so fast? My most favorite job and fondest memories are ones that include being a mother. Why does this life, as I have always known it, have to mature so rapidly.
Not more than three weeks after my oldest son left for college, his younger brother suffered burns to his arms, hands, and face. The evening of the accident my son came home from college to stay, while my youngest spent a few days in the burn center a couple of hours away.
It was a time that changed me. It was a moment I got on my knees and prayed over my son for comfort and healing. I didn’t understand why God was allowing this to happen. I couldn’t see past our pain or the trauma we suffered. It was mentally debilitating, and once again I was begging God to heal us all.
Not long after, I understood how God uses people, situations and even grief to heal. One tragedy had suddenly healed another brokenness, and our family was closer and stronger than ever before.
Another hurdle we managed to get through, all by the grace of God.
The last three years have been exhausting at times, unbearable in many situations, and life altering at others.
The one constant in my life, the one anchor, the one lifeline has been my children. Despite the fact their dad is in the fight of his life, they have remained, for the most part, extremely resilient.
Their strength has enabled me to face each new day, and they have encouraged me to seek support, given me the will to keep moving ahead and push on. They have been my constant beacon of hope. I cannot imagine my life without the four of them. They make me work harder, desire to be stronger, and refuse to give up. Along with the good Lord, they have been my saving grace!
I pray for them daily to get through the hurdles life has thrown at them. I pray for their safety, their strength and for their happiness. I have realized if God will give me that, along with the strength and wisdom I need to be their mother, then I can get through this life no matter the stage or what it throws at me.
I used to believe God never gives us more than we can handle, but I don’t believe that is true anymore. God has given me so much more than I ever imagined I could handle. But, he has also given me the courage I need to overcome my obstacles. My children have given me the will.
So often I find myself sad at the fact they are growing up, but regardless of how old they are, I will always be their mother. This is simply an interlude in the great play called life.
And, who needs who more?
Perhaps, they don’t need me in the same ways as they once did, but I am certain I need them more than I ever have. And, I imagine that’s the way God intended for it to be.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13