We are in our first full week of this new school year and I am feeling almost completely disheveled by noon. No, seriously. We literally JUST started the first full week of school and what is it? Just the typical Monday feels? Oh for the love of moms everywhere who forgot a lunch, fed them cereal out the door, or watched with wide eyes as your child fully melted into the pile of hangers and clothes yard sale’d on their floor as suddenly nothing fits and everything is ugly, solidarity and peace to you.
Somewhere between first and second grade, my seven year old decided she can and will use her words and sassy eyes to take me down. I’m not sure when I started using this with the girls, but over the course of seven years while raising our three daughters, I’ve noticed their tendency to hide behind the lies and blame, not acknowledging what they did wrong or hurtful, so I started saying, Mom can handle your truth. Sure, they still get disciplined for hitting their sister or lying about who spilled on the carpet, but the point is to create a safe and confident space in their hearts for acknowledging they’ve done something wrong and confessing, seeking forgiveness and learning. There are a million more parenting hopes for what this phrase will mean for them when they’re thirteen and twenty and fifty five. But for now, it’s whose mess is this? Mom can handle it.
What I can’t handle is the seemingly constant side eye mixed with huffs and puffs and animal snuffs as they saunter away careless. Oh no girl friend. You get back here. Well, a few weeks ago, our oldest took out Figgies & Jammies (because I have the gut of an 86 year old woman with celiac disease and the snacks to go with it), and as I walked by her, moving towards the hallway, I asked that if she was done, that she’d put them back in the pantry. Apparently that was the worst POSSIBLE thing I could have said or asked or even suggested in the moment because what unleashed in those next thirty minutes was like trying to convince my husband that any of the Bachelor franchise shows are legitimate for finding love. How dare you! This is garbage! (His words, not mine. I love me some filthy Bachelor hour. Sorry, E.).
It was horrendous, my friends. The younger two hid outside, occasionally peering into my bedroom window by standing on the back patio furniture. Both with fear and tears in their eyes. Izzy was on her bed screaming the devil’s words at me through her closed door. I was curled up on her comforter, at the foot of my bed, in a pile of her clothes and toys she’d need to earn back. It was not our best day. And for a moment, I wondered, have I lost her?
It was an actual, real life mom thought. Concerning and painful and with complete sorrow. My baby is not a baby. But she’s not yet an adult. She’s here and seven years young. In my reach. In my home. In that moment of time, however, it felt in every way opposite of brief; it was as though she stood on a cliff three millions miles away and I couldn’t get to her. Nothing I said resonated with her emotions and only seemed to escalate everything. So I sat and I cried on her comforter and I apologized to the youngers for the older, until the older was able and ready to do it herself. It took a hot second times a billion for that to happen but when she heard the youngest yell similar things at me after being sent to her room for four-year old things, she climbed down from the devil’s peak with big tears and big apologies and the bigger realization that she was influencing her sisters.
It was the first time I both had a hard time hugging her and not wanting to let her go. Why is mothering the most and worst and best of every single thing in life? I don’t know if this surprises you as much as it does me, but I only have ONE year left until ALL of the children are in school full-time. I remember when a friend, a fellow and vetted mom friend from church with three of her own, held baby Izzy (our oldest) and straight-faced dared to say, Enjoy this. They grow up so fast. Whatever dude. That first year was at least three years, lied and tied into one screaming, sleepless, raw body parts year. She was lying. I was sure of it. But now I’m sitting at the kitchen island, typing intermittently between playing Barbie’s and feeding Finley’s stuffed monkey purple bananas, soaking in every curl on her head and every make-believe story about her friends, Bun and Run, because in a year she will be telling those stories to her teacher and running wild not here.
I was texting with a friend yesterday and as we compared notes on our current happenings, or the haps for you millennials, I said, time is both a gift and a thief. The mom friend from church was right. She was right about all of it. Suddenly I have the sweetest, sassiest second grader who still sleeps with her Jellycat Ellie, while screaming the meanest words to her mama. I never thought this day would come and I’m forever reminded that just as I am still in the very comforts of needing my Jesus, my Savior, my Father, she still needs me and she is mine.
If you are feeling this today- needing the reminder that they are not forever young, but that in their growth and fight for independence, confidence and soul, they are still ours. We can fight with them and for them, creating a safe and humble place for them to land when the big realizations hit, like how they influence others. Moms, we’re in this together, raising the next generations of leaders and movers and lovers and, believe it or not, parents! They’re still ours.