My children left me alone for 6 hours today.
And it made me surprisingly sad.
Happy, too, but there was a definite sprinkling of sadness in my day. (Truth – as I walked away from my children’s school I was crying.)
For the past 16 months I have had my children surrounding me for most hours of most days. From the time we left for Ethiopia in May of 2012, my days have revolved around meeting my children’s needs. And while there were times I felt overwhelmed, and frazzled, and yes, maybe even a bit frustrated by it all; while there were times when I needed everyone to stop talking at me for JUST 5 MINUTES; while there were times when the word “Mommy” ceased to be sweet nectar to my ears and instead resembled a sound track of impending doom; and yes, there were even times when I hid in the pantry so that the little people who had invaded my house could not find me; in all honesty – I loved it.
Yes, that is right, I love being a full-time mother to my 6 children.
I realize now that God built me for this role. He hard-wired into my being all of the necessary character traits for the job that He had planned for me. (Except for patience. He was a little skimpy on that one. I could have used an extra measure or two.)
I thrive on organizing this large family. I enjoy looking at my calendar and seeing the days and the hours filled with little people’s plans. I find satisfaction in the meal planning and the delivering of hot, nutritious meals to hungry tummies. I derive some kind of sadistic pleasure out of making sure that my laundry baskets are never overflowing and marshaling the troops to complete their Saturday morning chores.
No, it is not always fun or easy. But I am good at it. And I feel satisfied when my home is a safe, nurturing, loving and well-run environment.
I read an article last week written by an empty nester. As I read her words, I felt a stab in my heart. This, this is how I feel…..
“I no longer had children to plan my days around. There were no dental appointments to make but my own, no huge loads of laundry to do, no high school games to attend, only simple meals to prepare. At the grocery store I stood behind a cheerful woman pushing a cart heaped high with boxes of cereal and yogurt pops. My sad little basket contained two chicken breasts and a lemon…..I felt like I’d just emerged from….a dream full of whirling color and activity into a place that was utterly, eerily still.”
No, I am not an empty nester yet. My children will re-invade my home at 3:00 every afternoon. I still have their homework and laundry and chores and dental appointments and dinner to make. But reading those words made me realize something.
I want to be that cheerful women with the cart heaped high with groceries. I want to live in this dream full of whirling color and activity.
And I can not say that this has always been the case. There were days, months even, when I cried out to God and asked Him if He was sure He had chosen the right woman to mother these children. I often felt a deep stabbing nostalgia for the easy yesterdays. I cast a wary eye to the future and wondered exactly what I had signed on for.
Oh, how time and love and grace can change a heart.
I am thankful for my hard job.
I will miss this when my children are grown.
And, yes, I am sure I will enjoy a few quiet hours to myself every day as my children head off to school for the first time.
Don’t feel too sorry for me, this is what I did today….
But, even while I am enjoying a bit more freedom in my schedule, I will also be missing those little people who have invaded my house. Because they have also invaded my heart. Every one of them. Even the ones who track me down when I am hiding in the pantry.