He Never Lets Go

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To all the well-meaning, seasoned veterans of motherhood who patted me on the arm in my bleary- eyed state of baby-raising and said, “enjoy this phase, it goes so fast.”

I’m sorry I snarled and/or glared at you as if you’d sprouted a third eye.

You were right.

Although I’m pretty happy to be sleeping through the night now, I miss the days when our boys’ whole world was the two foot circumference around their baby swing. While the crying jags and neediness were a little annoying, at least they didn’t roll their eyes, stomp upstairs and slam their bedroom door. Just sayin’.

Two events, although completely unrelated, occurred over the weekend that made me realize we’ve got one foot firmly planted in the next phase of parenting, while still tripping over Legos and dishing out goldfish crackers.

On Friday night, I chauffeured our eldest to his first sleep over. We threw caution to the wind and allowed him to go and stay with a family we didn’t know, other than a brief hello at a school function.

I know. Crazy, right? I gave him “the talk” about how to behave in someone else’s house and there was to be absolutely, under no circumstances, any sneaking out of the house because there’s a tropical storm brewing out there, for Pete’s sake. He responded with, “I know, Mom. I’m not stupid.”

Of course I hoped he would be like his mama and cry in the middle of the night and beg his friend’s parents to call his mom to come pick him up. {For the record, I blame my wimpiness on the freezing temperatures and lack of indoor facilities in rural Alaska}.

When he threw his stuff on the floor in the hallway and raced upstairs after his friend without so much as a backward glance…I knew. There wasn’t going to be a middle of the night phone call. I lingered and made small talk with the parents for as long as I could but it was time. Sigh. This letting go is tricky business. My friend reminded me this is good practice for when he leaves for college in 9 years.

Ack! My heart plummeted. Only 9 years?! You mean his childhood his half over?

But we’re just getting a hang of this parenting thing. Finding our groove…feeling like we’re doing a better than average job…

While his empty bedroom gave us pause each time we walked past it, he did come home the next morning still in one piece. It sounds like the only crimes committed were mass consumption of pizza and donuts and not enough sleep. Mission accomplished, right?

Unfortunately, our foray into the hard stuff of life continued but on a much grander scale. We were hanging out at a local pool on Saturday evening when an incident occurred in the deep end. The circumstances were such that the victim appeared to be headed for recovery. We left the pool with heavy hearts, answered a bazillion questions about drowning before bedtime, but still went to sleep feeling hopeful.

On Sunday morning, we heard at church that the victim had passed away. Our oldest was with us and heard the announcement and as he sat there, watching his parents lose it in the middle of church, the need to shield him from the storms of this life was palpable. I longed to cover his ears and hum a happy tune, to wish this awful circumstance away…to go back to the days when our greatest achievement was going grocery shopping and the most annoying part of my day was the encounter with one of those well-meaning seasoned mamas spouting pithy tidbits of wisdom in the aisles of Target.

I know we can’t live in a bubble, control is just an illusion…blah, blah, blah. But apart from the passing of elderly relatives, this is our children’s first encounter with a traumatic incident. The easy platitudes that roll off the tongue in these situations don’t seem to fit right now. This was so real, so in your face. Are you watching this unfold, God? This isn’t how it’s supposed to go. 

As I’m writing this post, a storm is rolling through and thunder just rattled the windows.
I find God’s timing to be always perfect. Just a little reminder that even in the storms of this life, He reigns.

Five years ago, in our former community, a little boy from our church was injured in a hunting accident and died unexpectedly. I watched his parents come back to church in the weeks following their loss. I’ll never forget seeing the dad raise his arms high and worship as we sang this song by Matt Redman. I sobbed at the time, in awe that he could worship at all, knowing he had lost a child.  Yet sobbing because it was such an amazing picture of God’s love for us, moving through us.

I still remember that family every time I hear that song and I still can’t sing it without crying.

Because here’s the thing: I’m still reeling over the events of the weekend; how quickly this life moves, how death can sweep in so unexpectedly. I don’t even have words for my children to help them through it, much less answers for the how and the why.

But I know this to be true: He never lets go. Even in the storms of this life.

Photo credit: Nicholas_T via compfight

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