I know I am not the first mom to face an empty nest, so why does it feel like I am? I knew my sons would grow up, but it’s as if I’ve discovered a surprising and disconcerting fact– Time does not listen to me! It won’t slow down. I can’t put it on “pause” until I’m ready for it to move on. I can’t go back in time to redo some things I’m just now figuring out.
Okay, so I know I haven’t discovered anything new. I know I was even warned of this by other moms who had already experienced it. They made comments to me when my boys were babies and toddlers. “Enjoy it while you can!” “This will all go by so fast!” But I don’t recall them telling me that mixed in with the pride and joy would be this unnerving sense of fear and doubt. I know I made mistakes as a mom. I can look back and see inadequacies and laziness. And I don’t recall them telling me that my heart would begin constantly replaying mental videos of rocking my small boys, reading to them, and listening to their childish prayers. Why didn’t one of those moms grab me by the shoulders, look me in the eyes and say, “Make the MOST of every single day. I’m serious!”
This past Sunday I watched our firstborn son, Gary, participate in the graduation ceremony of the Bear Valley Bible Institute. I think I kept shaking my head as he walked down the aisle. Didn’t I just have him? Then Sunday night I watched our youngest son, Carl, preach a sermon. He didn’t need the little step stool to see over the pulpit. He looked and sounded like a grown man. When did that happen? How is it possible that my baby will be a senior this fall? And this very afternoon we will take our middle son, Dale, to the airport. He is going to Alaska to begin a summer internship with a church in Anchorage. Did you know it’s over 3,000 miles from here? I don’t think a state that’s one of ours should be allowed to be that far away. With all of these events, I just want to grab each of them, pull them close, and hug them fiercely. I have one continual prayer, “God, please! Be with them. Help them always put you first!”
For years I’ve been meaning to write each of my boys a letter to read in the event of my death. I’ve been putting it off because I knew it would be an emotional undertaking. I finally did it a couple of weeks ago. It took me five hours to write three letters. I gave it to them on my birthday since it’s possible they could be senior citizens before I die, and I want them to know my hopes for them before then. None of them wanted to read their letter. Carl finally opened his a few days later. Then Gary was next. Dale still hasn’t read his. He has only gone as far as opening the corner of the envelope.
And that brings me to the point of this post (finally). As I wrote those letters and thought about what I wanted to impress the most upon my children, it amazed me how easily it was to figure out. It all boils down to the past, present, and future.
- Past: I have loved them with all my heart from the very beginning. God has loved them even longer than that.
- Present: My only desire is that they will love God with all their heart and serve Him with all their might.
- Future: I want to see them in Heaven.
With their whole upbringing condensed to these truths, it seems that parenting has never had to be overly complicated. It’s really all about taking the time to focus on what truly matters.