I rummaged through the kitchen drawers looking for the measuring spoons and feeling a bit like a happy stranger. It was after Midnight and I was making a birthday cake for my 3-year old. It was late but there was a certain thrill to being up so late without feeling overpowered by fatigue. It was the first time in at least a year that I hadn't asked my oldest daughter to do the baking and I couldn't even remember the last time I did any baking on my own. I am new here, I am old here. Familiar, happy stranger.
I had been so sick and tired with pregnancy for so long that I couldn't even find anything in my kitchen. You see, my kids had been "handling it" and maybe some of you know what that means. For us, it apparently means that things are put away wherever they fit. Which, really, could be anywhere at all. Like under couches. There weren't as many spoons as I remembered having. And there was a strange jar of unidentifiable substance in my pantry. I tried to be irritated but I remembered how much help I had needed and I how grateful I was to have it... even when the utensils were oddly placed.
And today is a new day. A new day.
I poured the batter and whipped the cream and what do you know? It turned out just fine. A small, delicious success. See? I still remember.
At around 12:30 am, the birthday girl tiptoed down to the kitchen to see the progress, too antsy to stay in bed. A few minutes later, her oldest brother followed the sound of the mixer downstairs and joined us. As the young man and the tiny girl sat side by side scraping extra frosting from the bowl, I was overcome with the goodness of my life. Motherhood is painfully sweet and that reality was summed up so neatly in the image of my two children sharing a late night treat...
One is leaving home for the first time next week.
The other has just begun her journey.
It was the first time in this final leg of his trip through childhood that I had to leave the room and cry. That small ache reminded me of why God in His wisdom allows us to know loss. I don't know His mind but I suspect He knows how that aching nurtures in us a longing for our eternal home.
In heaven, the son I lost in the womb and the one I now send packing will meet for the first time and embrace. And what a life that will be! If I live an average lifespan, then I have a long way to go before my birthday into eternity. But the longing grows and grows. Happy stranger, breaking heart. The world is not my home.
The days are passing in such a blur that I appreciate being able to go back through my pictures to fully enjoy the moments. Here are a few...
My daughter and son recently shared a sacramental celebration. First Communion and Baptism combined in a perfect, beautiful, exhausting day.
The funniest part of the day for me was when Father asked what name we have chosen for our child... and I forgot my baby's name. It was the quintessential postpartum motherhood moment. My 20-year old self would have died of mortification. Fortunately, I am almost 40, and I simply looked helplessly at my husband and I laughed.
It's not so important that I get the details right. I know my son and he knows me. And God willing, that love will extend to eternity... whether or not I can recall his beautiful name.
Truth be told, the most beautiful, "magical" moments in life are often mixed up completely with puddles of confused tears and frustration...
My toddler had to use the bathroom so I missed my daughter's First Communion. And when I took my son out to change him into his Baptismal gown, my little girl decided to make herself a little too comfortable (photo above). There may or may not have been some stressful moments. And it really doesn't matter.
Alongside the big and little events of the Summer, my oldest is preparing to move on to college seminary. What a complicated moment for a mom. I do see that it is time... he has clearly gotten too big for us. But I also know the part of him that is too small to leave. Does that make sense? It is the charism of mothers to know for what great things their boys are made - and to also know and love the vulnerabilities.
Regardless, he will move on and I pray that it will be a wonderful, Christ-centered adventure.
He has always been my first baby love - how is it that our family will undergo such a fundamental change? When I look into the eyes of my oldest son, I want to go with him. But it is when I look into the eyes of my other children (birthday girls and stretching teenagers and pickles-in-the-middle) that I know I'm supposed to let go of the big ones.
The Birthday Princess (above) is three and she's not sure about the world. She has a new little brother and her place in the family has changed. She's discovered that life is sometimes scary and sometimes overwhelming and that new awareness is causing some road bumps. Loving our little tigers can be scary sometimes, but I'm not worried... they've all been entrusted to me from their heavenly Father and He's got this.
In other news...
- Some of the kids have been busy becoming American Ninja Warriors. This apparently involves lots of scrap wood, a few nails, two stitches to a chin, poison ivy, and footprints on the walls.
- I've continued on my fitness/wellness journey and have recently been working with Fit Catholic Mom. If anyone wants to join me for an August jump start, check out Rebecca's upcoming W.I.S.E Gals online group training (July 29 registration deadline).
- Kid #1 finally received NCAA approval to play Division II volleyball next Spring after they first rejected two of our homeschool courses (more details in a future post for those interested).
- My 20th wedding anniversary is this week.
- Whole family road trip to drop off our first college-bound kid coming right up!
- Baby has been nursing 24/7 and has been gaining almost a pound a week to prove it.
- Working on completing a manuscript.
- It's 4:15 pm and I'm still in my pajama pants.
- I don't want Summer to ever end.
God is good. All the time. Thanks be to God!