We’re closing another chapter in my family story–another son is graduating from high school. Excitement and anticipation, and yet those awful pricks to the heart. It went too fast. Life goes too fast.
Do a mother’s arms ever stop aching for delicious baby flesh? I don’t think so. I can still feel the soft squishyness of my boys and hear their little baby giggles. I can feel their warm, sleepy bodies crawling into the cradle of my arms in the middle of the night and feel the weight of their bottoms in my lap while I read a Curious George book for the hundredth time.
It’s amazing to me that whatever stage my children are in, it feels interminable while they’re in it and alarmingly fleeting when it’s over. Night feedings, potty-training, tantrums, learning to read–whatever the stage, it seemed unending, until poof! It’s over, and we’re on to something more challenging. The risks grow, but so have I (and I didn’t even realize I was the one growing–I thought it was my children!). My kids are preparing for life, and hopefully I’m prepared for them to live a life apart from my supervision. Maybe there’s pain in that, too, because their maturation necessitates a change in my life as well.
I have my graduate’s baby pictures out a lot now, making collages, sending them to school or youth group for another power point that will make me cry in public. The baby pictures hurt the most, like a punch in the gut and a deep longing all rolled into one crazy emotion. I can’t look at a baby picture without making the pathetic “OOOH!” and scrunching my eyes and mouth into a sad little pout. My boys’ response is as automatic as mine: a laugh with a “Mom!” (translation: “You’re ridiculous and cute at the same time.”) Will I always feel this way?
How do we survive any joyful, precious, yet sad moments? Store them away in our database of memories. Another snatch of time forever knotted with love and longing. I must focus on the hope, not the heart-pricks. The hope for my child represents the reason I gave birth–the fulfillment of his dreams, not mine. The promise of a life lived productively and for a higher purpose, not for my satisfaction.
There’s the hope. Life goes on, and it does go too fast. But every landmark presents the opportunity to reflect on progress. Look what he’s accomplished! What a path my son is on! And I have the privilege of experiencing all of it, as an initiator of change, a shaper, an influencer, a cheerleader–an integral part of a life being lived. His life is like a little sapling that grows almost imperceptibly over time until voila! He is a mighty tree, providing protection for everyone around him. He withstands storms and heat. His roots are deep. He reproduces himself, and the fruit is good. He can provide a centerpiece for beauty and service. Solid and secure.
That’s a longing fulfilled.
Prov. 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”