The Here and Now
Is where I am. It is what I feared and not what I expected. How do you prepare for the quiet monotony of days without children?
With my eyes I see snowy fields, mountains edged in firs. With my ears I hear chatter of birds, chorus of frogs, crackle of fire in woodstove. But I am unable to enter in. The fissure in my heart leaks away joy and leadens my steps with the weight of …what? Memories of Cream of Wheat mornings, 5 faces around the table before school? Of blind hen, Poppy, perched on oldest son’s shoulder by day, foot of his bed by night. Of two small ginger-haired girls in gingham dresses pedaling tricycle circles on the patio. Little hands filled with helicopter seeds of maple trees gathered on family walks. One of those seeds, planted by second son, grew into a tree that matches the height of the two-storey yellow farmhouse we moved away from one year ago. It is noticeably angled, bent from years of prevailing wind during formative growth when tissue was tender.
Ahh, prevailing wind. There it is. My children, five with a stepson plunked right in the middle, did not escape prevailing wind. Buffeted by winds of dysfunction, divorce, death, remarriage; they grew. Too few hugs and tender words. Too many reprimands, time-outs, and spankings. Wind can be harsh and where is shelter when you are rooted in place? They are each bent, and here is where I see the difference. They are not as the maple, bent away from the wind, but into it. They don’t each know it yet, but they are strong. I didn’t wish the wind upon them, but I can admire the outcome: five young adults, uniquely equipped for the life and plans God has for them.
Here then is my blessing to the five and it is simple but not easy: Live! Shake off the shadows, don’t sit among them, and take hold of here and now. Taste and see that God is good, that you are blessed. Drew, your steadiness of spirit, quiet perseverance, and unique vantage point are rare and needed in this world. Clayton, your timely if zany humor and intense pursuit of your goals are much admired; remember to allow yourself grace. Elijah, it’s time to begin the journey home. It’s not as long as you think. Cameo, you are beauty and grit personified. Your sensitive nature seems to be at odds with your fiery ability to debate; maybe they are just two sides of the same coin, after all. You don’t always have to be strong. Miriam, your artistry is not limited to paintbrush and pen, but includes people, inspiring those around you to become better versions of themselves by your belief in them. It’s okay, no imperative, to take care of yourself, too.
The years of child-rearing are over. My heart holds a record of done-rights and done-wrongs. I am not even sure the done-rights outnumber the done-wrongs. That’s what weighs me down. Can I take my own advice? Live! Shake off the shadows, don’t sit among them, and take hold of here and now.