Last night, as I sat through game seven of Mackenzie’s two
volleyball matches, I had a horrible thought. I stood between one of the
matches to stretch, chase Felicity, and relieve myself of the ever-hardening
bleacher seats. I chatted with some of the other moms. It was in that moment,
as I was trying to hold a conversation, while watching to see that Felicity
didn’t fall to her doom off the bleachers, while doling out the last of the
snacks to the boys that the thought blasted its way into my mind.
I…will….be…doing…this…for…THE NEXT EIGHTEEN YEARS!
It was deafening. It was as if someone had blown an air horn
next to me with a sound so loud I could feel it in my bones. There will be no
break, no hiatus, no let down of any of this craziness for a very, very, VERY
Suddenly, there I was sitting (probably on one of those
padded, backed, portable bleacher seats) at my umpteenth sporting event, eating
my thousandth late night meal, giving a ride to the hundredth passenger. It was
After finding a brown bag to breath into, and bringing my
heart rate down close to just below busting, I realized that the marathon of
games that started three and a half hours ago had finally ended. I gathered the
troops and headed home with a baby that was starving, exhausted, and filthy from her adventures
under, around, and behind the bleachers as well as from the fact that she had
indeed picked up some form of someone’s left behind or, GASP, already consumed
food and…yes…put it IN her mouth. Seriously! The kid is oh so cute, but also a
Fast-forward to this morning when I had to peel cleaned,
scoured mouthed Felicity out of bed and get her off to her first day of school.
Last night, as I was packing her lunch, I realized that I hadn’t prepared for
it like I did in the beginning. There was no cute lunch box or miniature
backpack for her to carry; she got what was in the closet. There was no new
outfit to commemorate her first day.
She got one foot in the door, ran off to the playroom and
never looked back. There were no tears. I snuck out and didn’t look back either.
Okay, I looked back once. I am still a mama after all. That was it. I just
walked out and got in the car and went back home. It was her first time in any
place remotely like this. They’ve gotten rid of the nursery at our church (I
know Jesus said, “Let the children come unto me,” but I think He meant like
when they are old enough to understand to sit still and be quiet.) and I no
longer work out at the Y so she’s not been to a nursery at all. I know her well
enough not to worry about how she’ll handle it. I worry more about how the
other kids will survive her. She can be quite the brute these days. She’s in that
what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine and I’m going to scream until you
submit stage. Remember, she’s cute but a holy terror. No kidding.
When I got back home, I quickly scrolled through the photos.
Aiden had snapped a few as I walked her into the building. I saw her, but what
I focused on was how I looked. I saw a cute little redhead being led into the
school by a mom old enough to have taught all of the other mothers when they
were in high school. I saw legs with veins bulging from the stress of carrying
five babies. I saw flabby arms out of shape from lack of time and energy to
focus on them in the never-ending summer.
I forced the big kids into the car so we could go to the
pool. “Aww mama, why don’t you take a nap? We can just stay home and watch TV,”
was their play. I wasn’t going for it. They needed to get out of the house and
I needed to too.
I swam a mile in almost complete silence. I was counting
laps in my head so there was no room for self-defeating thoughts. There were
only the muffled sounds of the kids playing in the pool and the bubbles blowing
past my ears. When I finished, I sat on the side of the pool and carried on the
longest conversation I’ve had there all summer. And after two short hours, it
was time to head back to pick up Felicity.
This time my head was clear, and I was relaxed and
accomplished. I met that darling girl at the door walking towards me with her
belly peeking out of the too small shirt I chose, a lollipop dangling from her
sweetheart lips. She acted like she owned the place and trotted out as if she
had been doing it her whole life.
In the car, we quizzed her about her day. “Did you have
fun?” She nodded yes. “Did you eat your lunch?” She shook her head no. “Did you
play outside?” Again no. “Did you color?” No. “Did you miss us?” No. “Do you
want to go back to school again?” Yes!
She was so worn out that by the time I got her home, she
wasn’t even interested in a story before her nap. She pointed to her bed, I laid
her down, and she grabbed her elephant, rolled over and went to sleep.
I walked out of the room and looked at those pictures again.
That’s when I had a better thought - a thought that blossomed from a cleared
mind. I looked at those pictures and didn’t see myself. I saw that sweet girl
grasping the lunchbox that was almost half her size. I gazed at the flouncy
pink skirt mid swish, the tiny white shirt, that red pony tail, and those oh so
squeezable, chubby arms. I stared at that puffy, dimpled hand holding mine.
Then I thought it.
I…GET…to…do this for the next eighteen years!
My heart skipped and beat as it jumped into my throat. I saw
Felicity in that picture, but was immediately taken back to Mackenzie at that
same age, looking almost identical. I remembered watching her walk down the sidewalk towards Kindergarten while realizing
that in a few short weeks, she will be able to get her learner’s permit.
There I was in that juxtaposition of the sweetness of what
was and what’s yet to come. The realization of the gift it is to have the
opportunity to do this so many times, each with a little more experience and
wisdom to accompany it. The realization that as badly as I want to move through
this season at times, I also want to savor each moment.
That’s the lesson here. It’s survival lesson 101. To make it
through life, you have to stay in the moment. Sure we have to plan for the
future – everything from who needs a ride where tomorrow, to how are we going
to celebrate our soon to be fifteen year old, to how are we going to put five
kids through college.
We can plan for the future, but we can’t live there.
We don’t have the grace. Grace only comes in the moment it’s
needed. And the moment? That’s the place we need to dwell. What do I need to do
now? How do I need to respond in this moment? If we can focus on that, there’s
not much room for worry, only action. I may not live to see eighteen years from
now. I hope and pray I do. I’d love to live long enough to enjoy a few fruits
of all this labor, but none of us know how long we’ll be here.
What is certain is the here and now and that’s where we…I…should