Daily Prompt: Journey

Here’s a quick poem for today’s prompt….Journey

corduroy

Journey

I’m going on a journey

Don’t be surprised to see me smile

Please don’t try to bring me back

I’ll be gone a little while

 

I’ll back up from today

To a time when they were small

I’ll put years in reverse

Like they never passed at all

 

I’ll enjoy the chubby fists

And little chins covered with goo

The bumbling first steps

And baths and bedtimes too

 

The sleepless nights year after year

For one reason or another

From leaking diapers to broken hearts

Mom helped them to recover

 

This worn and yellowed photo album

Is bursting at the seams

It overflows with memories

Of their accomplishments and dreams

 

Yes, I’ve reminisced a while

So I’ll journey homeward very soon

Oops, I’ve been distracted now

With Corduroy and Goodnight Moon

My heart

Ashley and Morgan; then and now

Ashley and Morgan; then and now

Chubby little hands, wet with slobber, getting caught in my hair

Up half the night rocking you with a prayer until the fever subsided

Chasing remnants of applesauce around your tiny lips with a tiny spoon

The spoon, now airborne and not because I’m pretending it’s a plane

Bath time;  soggy toys, towels and floors until you were like ten

Drying a wiggle worm until the towel drops and you run away giggling

Treating Boo boos with kisses and rug rat bandages and Neosporin

Riding bicycles and scooters and go karts and four-wheelers

Going to Little league, Church camp, school plays and sleepovers

Checking out library books and Disney movies and The Nutcracker

Reminding daily about baths and brushing teeth and hair

Blond hair whipping in the wind as we caught our share of fish

Driving cars and blasting music and growing up too fast

Never-ending showers that leave the rest of us mad and cold

Little Miss Know It All who doesn’t really have a clue

Late nights, some fights, long talks and lots of prayers

High school, sports, dances and dates

Increasing beauty, decreasing days before graduation and then…..

Empty nest, quiet house, too much time on our hands

Phone calls, holiday visits and lots of texts

Agree to disagree, offer advice but realize my limits

Heart breaks when you feel pain or struggle

Loving you long distance, looking forward to your next visit

Missing you, lots of reminiscing, tears and prayers

Missing my girls

The girls when they were young

The girls when they were young

As the holidays loom ever closer, I find myself reminiscing about the simple things I miss.  Being an empty nester for almost a year now hasn’t been as bad as I feared.  Dad and I have had more time for each other and it’s been peaceful and quiet.

But sometimes a mama just has one of those days.

Today, I miss one hand in mine, while your dad held the other as we propelled you over a puddle or a crack or just for the thrill of hearing you giggle.  You would always plea, “do it again”, until our arms were worn out.  I miss tiny feet coming down the hall with sleepy eyes that beckoned me to pick you up and hold you for a while until you were fully awake.

I miss play-doh, yes, even play-doh and playdates and parks; climbing up the slide with you in my arms and sliding down while holding on to you for dear life.

The dinner table is much quieter now and there are never any spills or anyone scrunching their nose up at my choice of veggies.  It only takes a minute to clean up afterwards and there is no one volunteering to help.   Oh wait; there wasn’t when you were here either!

I miss the wide, trusting eyes that believed everything I told them and somehow instinctively knew I had their best interest at heart.

Oh yes, I even miss the makeup encrusted counters, because they remind me of “getting ready” with you to go on one of our outings.  I miss a house full of friends, being your taxi and proudly watching you play all your sports.  Today, I even miss the smelly tripled amounts of laundry.

I miss the way I rarely had to drag you to church because you always wanted to go.  I miss your excitement over mission trips and the way you told stories of the life changing experiences you had upon your return from them.

I am sure I’ll have other days like this, because I have so many wonderful memories with you.  You were a pleasure to raise (most of the time).  Don’t get so teary and filled with sympathy that you think this means you have to return for good, but a visit in the near future would be nice!

Make sure that you enjoy the “simple” things, as those are the ones you will remember with such fondness.

Love,

Mom

Morning dew and joy

rain drops on hisbicus

rain drops on hisbicus

The only light she saw was the blue dot on the DVR player and a soft glow from the computer screen.  At 2:00am, it was dreadfully dark and silent except for the sound of the ceiling fan as it followed its infinite circular route.

It was time; time for prayer and quiet reflection, time to stop suppressing the angst and the pain; time to release the fear and let it all tumble out in salty cleansing tears.

She doesn’t like to cry, especially not this kind of cry; the heart-wrenching sobs that had threatened like a black and dreaded storm cloud for days now.  She likes to show herself strong, capable, and unmoved by life’s jabs and pokes and knockouts.

But deep within, she knows that to give up on self, to let go and let God is the answer.  That is when the healing can begin and joy will return.  Not the “ha-ha” playground laughter kind of joy, but the deep-down to your soul kind.  On her knees, pouring it out in sobs that are interrupted by deep gasping breaths, she lets God right things.

Then, peace ensues and a heart at rest can finally rest.   The mind stops racing, and the once elusive sleep comes quickly.

Morning breaks with a sunrise of hope and goals and motivation afresh!  Yes, joy does come in the morning.

Empty nest but a full heart

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As the curtains gently sway with the beautiful fall breeze on this quiet Thursday morning, I sit in the midst of the leftovers from the wedding; the items that they couldn’t quite squeeze into the very packed black Jetta now bound for Texas;  the one with “just married” fading on the back window.

As I take a few moments to reflect on the past several days, I smile broadly and my heart warms.  She said, “The wedding ceremony and the reception were everything I wanted them to be”. (and wasn’t that the goal?)

We were blessed before, during and after the wedding with friends and family who smoothed out the potential wrinkles prior to their occurring with their support, love and encouragement.  During the wedding ceremony, love permeated the crowd; the love between the bride and groom and also the love felt for both of them by so many family members and friends who came to share in the joy of their nuptials.

This now official “empty nester” knows that days will come when the sense of loss brushes across her heart in large, sweeping strokes.  But, at this moment I feel nothing but excitement and thankfulness; excitement about all that God has in store for them and thankfulness that another daughter has found love and happiness with her soul mate.

Yes, mom and dad may be all alone now but as the youngest takes that final leap and clears the nest; we will look on and smile knowing she has been equipped to soar.

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Dust bunnies and Diaries

Will I even miss the mess?

Will I even miss the mess?

“My mom used to force us to do this at least twice a year”, I said, as we sifted through each and every item in her closet and drawers.  My daughter is quite the packrat and I knew we had better take a day (and preferably a full one) before her move to Texas to dig in deep.

As we went through every box, purse, bag and crate piece by piece, she painstakingly decided which pile the item would make its home.

Memory after memory assaulted my mind as I tried to keep this a lighthearted event.  There were the multiple pairs of Toms that she began wearing after her first trip to Mexico, when she learned she could supply another child with a pair if we bought them.  This reminded me of how compassionate she has always been.  There was the birthday card from Granny that still had the crisp $2 bills tucked inside that she had been saving; the tiny pee wee cheerleader uniform she once wore; the drum sticks that light up when you play from her days of drum lessons; the Dr. Seuss books, stuffed animals and old report cards.

She laughed as she opened an old diary and began to read.  As I listened to the words written by a nine year old, describing her days in detail, the thing that brought me the most pleasure was the happiness reflected in her entries.  So, as we laughed over silly diary entries and I again hid tears, we reflected on the past.

When you clean the cobwebs and dust bunnies from things long forgotten, it’s akin to cleaning the cobwebs from the recesses of your mind, or removing the layers of dust accumulated from years of not remembering.

Thankfully, my mind is alive tonight with so many beautiful memories that I had tucked away.  It’s a joy and a pleasure to revisit them, to recall all the good times with my family.

Falling into a new season

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“You’re gonna miss this, mom”, she says after I halfway scold her for one of her annoying habits of doing something to about 95% completion.   And I know that she is right.  That all too familiar constriction begins in my throat and I silently pray that I won’t be forced to speak any time soon.  My eyes are damp too, but she won’t notice that from the next room.  It’s not that I’m afraid to show my emotions; we’ve been a tangled mess of emotions over the past few weeks.

I’ve thought about it and written about, but now the time is here.  Our youngest will leap headlong from the nest this coming Saturday and when she gets up and brushes herself off, she will have a new last name and a new protector.

If time permits and the words flow, I will share it all in the coming days, the ups and downs, the panic and the quiet and all the other pre-wedding drama.

I’ve always said that fall is my favorite season and it is, but I find myself wondering if now it will also represent the time of year that I fell into the “empty nest”.

And she isn’t even gone

Dusky, hazy, purple day after rain

Dusky, hazy, purple day after rain

As the thunder rolls outside, it’s almost deafening, compared to the silence inside.  There is a faint whisper from one of the televisions left on in another room.  Other than that, there is nothing.

Normally, I relish in the quiet but today it is different.  Today I cannot seem to stop the agonizing silence from reminding me that there is much more of it to come.

You see my days of telling toddlers to eat all of their dinner or get in the bathtub are over.  My days of shuttling adolescents to appointments long before they get their permit are gone.  Sleepovers and sports, bedtime stories and battling are a thing of the past.  When my youngest departs in a couple of months to carry on with her life, it will leave its mark.

People will tell you to think on the bright side; of lives fulfilled and your “good raising” and grandchildren and hope and dreams realized.  And I will.  They will say, “This is a normal, natural part of life and you should embrace it”.  And I have.  Some offer that, “Now, you have all this free time and you and the hubby can enjoy each other!”  Yes, this I realize.

But you know what?  That doesn’t take away the ache, the missing and the worry.

I know God has His hand on all of us, and things really will work out for the best.  And maybe I will even look back someday and laugh about my melancholy days, missing my children before the last one is even really gone.

But not today, not right now.

Pondering prom

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I was just there to do a favor; take pictures that the kids would like, with a decent camera.  My role was photographer (not even close to professional and not pretending to be) and spectator.

One of the first cars to pull up after my friend and I arrived was my daughter and wow, she looked amazing.  She had that perfect dress on and when she smiled at me, I considered how blessed I was to be here, a part of her senior prom.  I could watch her from the sidelines, beside myself with emotion that was pushed way down deep, yet ever threatening to bubble to the top and overflow.  But, I promised myself there would be no waterworks tonight.

As I watched the young adults begin to arrive, I was amazed at how beautiful and handsome they all looked.  Since I’ve known most of them since they were in diapers, my heart lurched for them too.  For some, this would be the final big event of their high school career.

They let me take their pictures, ate a wonderful meal and then the dancing began.  This was a great group, not the kind you constantly have to worry about and follow around to intercept any mischief.  They were content to be together.

Looking around the room casually, careful not to let my eyes linger anywhere long enough to be that nosy parent, the memories overwhelmed me.  The sleepovers, the birthday parties, little league games and youth group.  Many have been found eating at my table, riding in my car, sharing secrets and dreams.

We complain sometimes because we live in a small town and our kids go to a K-12 school.  It’s small so it doesn’t offer as much variety or choice in sports or academics as some schools.  Everyone knows each other’s business, so gossip can run rampant.

But, sitting there thinking about these kids and some of the lifelong friendships, I realized that where we fall short in some areas, we far exceed in others.  We’re like family; we all come together when it’s needed.  They may argue, but when push comes to shove and there is a need, it’s met.

Their futures loom just ahead of them and no one knows what tomorrow holds, but whenever they return home, they will have those of us who welcome them.  We will share in their joy of accomplishments and feel sorrow in their losses.

I had been home about an hour when my daughter arrived and we went through the pictures together and discussed the night.  She was happy with how things went, so of course, so was I.   (and I was glad she was home and off the road early so this mom could get some much needed rest!)

Reflecting and preparing

Ashley and Morgan; then and now

Ashley and Morgan; then and now

It was that time of day when things are getting quiet everywhere.

Outside, the birds are seeking a place to roost, traffic slows down in the neighborhood and people begin to go indoors to settle in for the day.

From where I am sitting, I can see palm trees gently swaying in the breeze, but I can no longer see the streak of sunlight across my dining room floor; the same streak that Ayda found her shadow in when they were here just three long days ago.

I remember watching her quietly, not wanting to spoil the moment.  She would find it and pounce, trying to catch it, and then look for it again, line her little body up just right and try again.  The ever elusive shadow kept her busy for several minutes, an eternity for a toddler.  I remember thinking, “Enjoy this, Nana….capture this moment in your mind’s photo shop so you can enjoy it when they’re gone”.

And way too quickly, they were.  I fought back the tears as I leaned in to kiss her goodbye.  She was already strapped in nice and snugly in her car seat.  Away they drove, leaving me with an ache in my heart that felt like a brass fist clenched tightly around it.

Oh, and it wasn’t only Ayda.  My eldest waved from the car window, her blonde hair bouncing around her shoulders; the hair I used to put in pony tails, pig tails and bows, which she always fought me over.

Her husband and my youngest shared the front seat.  My baby, my youngest (wasn’t she in diapers yesterday?!?) was driving for the first leg of the journey.  The days of Barbie jeeps, speeding up and down our street until the batteries died, are long gone for this nostalgic mother.

Little Sis heading to her Big sister’s home in New Orleans for a visit that will wrap up the remainder of her last Spring Break as a high school student.  Spending Spring Break together is a tradition with them that I hope they keep.

Yes, this house is eerily quiet and lifeless (except for me of course).  And all of the things I thought I would do when I got the time, the solitude, and the silence are left waiting.  It seems I don’t have the motivation to do them today.  I look forward to my husband’s footsteps on the porch to break the silence and his kiss when he comes inside.

I’m glad that I always told my girls that as important as they are, one day they would leave and begin their own lives, leaving dad and I alone.  And for this reason, they must not complain when we spent quality, child-free time together; time spent nurturing our relationship so that when we were alone one day, we’d have invested wisely and be able to draw from that.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven  Ecclesiastes 3:1

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