Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Perfect Spiritual Classroom for Life: Mothering (Part 1)

I couldn't have anticipated the raw emotion that overcame my body as I pulled tight the mini-van door and we started to drive away. After all, I was ready....READY ladies (can I get an "amen" from any mommies out there?) for back to school and looking forward to a change of pace and some alone time with our two-year-old. I couldn't wait to grab some special lunches with my little guy, clean out some upstairs closets, have the energy to try a few new dinner recipes, get an uninterrupted afternoon time when our little 2-year-old napped. I was READY to simply embrace a little more quiet for the few months before a we welcomed a fourth life into our crazy, growing brood.

The morning for our first day went very smoothly. The girls both jumped out of bed, finished excitedly through their chore charts, gulped down breakfast, filled their new water bottles and raced to the van.

We were running on time - a miracle at that. We took pictures on our front steps. My beautiful blond girls giggled and helped each other pull their droopy knee-highs to their growing knees. "This is the best way to fold them La, so they don't fall down at recess," Lilli tenderly showed her baby sister. I took in each moment, feeling present and alive. 

My hubby helped me load the car and he jumped in with us to make the short drive. We parked, waved to friends as the five of us walked the girls to their new classrooms.

Easy. Peaceful. We were all settled about turning one of life's monumental pages, going back to school. Everyone was smiling, including me.

But then it hit me - the reality that our two daughters were one more year older. I now had two children in school. My two best friends, my play-doh and park-going buddies, back-yard swingers, bug chasers and miniature horse wranglers would be gone during the day. The two that make me laugh until my sides hurts and push me to my knees daily, petitioning for wisdom and patience each day would be experiencing new and beautiful teaching in classrooms at school instead of in our cozy, coastal kitchen. It was time for them to grow a little more outside of my arms. So why did my heart feel so raw?

"The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom."
(Henry Ward Beecher)

I felt this tug two years ago when we dropped off our first child at the front doors of school. I figured this year, our second time around, would be even easier. 

Suddenly, the truth enveloped my heart that all of the long hours of mothering and pouring into another life for the past five years had flown by like the blink of an eye. All of those struggling times, beautiful toddler "break-thrus", warm snuggles, and lonely moments of mothering were a gift from the One who is daily molding me more like Him.

 Letting go of a five-year-old as she embraces  her first day of kindergarten is an opportunity to mother her best by letting her go. The memory of delivering a precious, dark-haired baby on a cold March night and the smell of her skin as she melted into me seems just yesterday. But the true, deep love of a mother's heart is constantly expanding as we joyfully help our children embrace each new adventure in life.

"You don’t become a parent by bearing a child.
You become a parent by bearing witness to his life."
(Ann Voskamp)

My hubby and I walked back to the van and buckled in our youngest. I pulled my seat belt around my growing, round tummy.

And then it happened out of no where. My heart just burst open into a million pieces. My chest seemed to literally be ripped apart, my heart wide open and exposed. My face fell with salty tears.

I'm talking the "ugly" cry here my sisters! The flood gates opened at a rate of zero to 60 spilling from my eyes. I'm pretty good at controlling my emotions, but couple crazy pregnancy hormones and dropping off our second daughter at kindergarten and let me tell you girl -a glimpse in the rear view mirror as we drove away showed I wasn't looking pretty! The make-up I had purposefully put on earlier that morning was dripping everywhere. My eyes were swelling shut and I was an all-out hot mess. HOT MESS in capital letters.

My poor hubby didn't know whether to keep heading to Crackel Barrel (my choice for our "celebration" breakfast) or make a quick left turn and drop me at the looney-bin. The later probably would have been better suited for me!

"Are you just missing them?" he asked me, handing me gobs of tissues as he nervously looked around, probably wondering what alien had inhabited my body. I nodded my head no but couldn't muster any words. I was sobbing, uncontrollably, not because I was sad, but because of the joy of "making" it to this point.

Quite simply...We had survived.

I was overcome with gratitude for the years I've had with each daughter so far-the thousands of hours purposefully poured into Lilli and Lacey. I was overcome with gratitude for making the difficult decision to mother each girl full-time; putting everything else but my marriage in distant second place.

When we give our all, our best, all of our hearts and our time-there are no deep mothering regrets. In hindsight, of course there are PLENTY of mistakes and lessons learned. After all, the Lord is using me, a VERY imperfect mother to raise three of HIS kids. But what supersedes those failures is a deep thankfulness for embracing the full mission of motherhood.

As I cried, I was filled with incredible expectation for this new chapter and for the decades of mothering yet to come. The hair on my arms stood on end as I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit, "Mama, job well done good and faithful servant. "

When the tears finally stopped, I had the blessing of enjoying a beautiful breakfast with my two favorite "men". We sipped sweet tea and stuffed ourselves with French Toast and Western Omelets.

My heart was filled with joy. Yes, I spent the morning grieving a "mothering page" turned, but I am also celebrating the chapters yet to come.

May you embrace your mothering season, whatever it may be, and give it your all.

Love and Blessings, Jodi
(Be sure to check back for "The Perfect Spiritual Classroom for Life: Part 2...Coming Soon...)