The shift from being a parent of two to three has been significant, to say the least. Not only are we outnumbered, but the required mental attention is an entirely different animal sometimes. Instead of just a mental burden of getting two children dressed in the morning, there is now a blind hope that you don't forget something or someone in the process. Mismatched socks, neglected hair and ridiculous clothing are too often par for the course, whether we're headed to the park or a funeral. The reality is much heavier with three that you WILL forget things. The good news is that you learn it's not really that big of a deal to see last nights mustard on the cuff of someone's pants. What is troublesome is wondering if you will forget something far more important.
If you have siblings, you know that we don't all have the same experiences under the same roof. And I understand why all the more these days. To give all parents the benefit of the doubt, it is probably not because they loved one child more than the others, but how much life was crashing in on them at the time you were hitting a particular milestone. This morning as I let the dog out, I glanced into the yard and was met by a dozen or more bright yellow and orange soccer cones and the remains of miss Z's outdoor kitchen adventures from yesterday. I love that girl and her imagination! When all of a sudden fear gripped my heart for the things that any one of them might forget or never appreciate as they get older. What if they lose their imagination and ability to have fun? What if they forget the value of a garden or a walk in the woods? What if they lose sight of who made the forest and gave them life? What about all the things I remember to say to one of them but not the other two? What about all the things I'm forgetting?
The whirlwind of this emotional girl is not insignificant. At 8, 5 and almost 2, my nest is still full and my chicks are still my charges to guide. The responsibility of being the strongest lighthouse (for now) showing them the way to God is so daunting at times. I'm so thankful for them, but I'm also aware of how fast it is going. At bedtime, J was asking me about the difference between high school and college which morphed into how many colleges are around Oklahoma and how they were different. One day scholarships and programs offered are going to be all we talk about. And by that time, this part of my mom job will be largely done. What if I forget something and it's too late?
My panic and worry often gets the best of me for a little while, but I'm thankful the Holy Spirit doesn't leave me to my own devices for too long. So, two things.
#1 Wherever my children go, God will be there, even though I'm not. It may not change my compulsion to hold their hand into every new room, but the Almighty God can and will walk with them providing hope and peace.
#2 It only takes one person remembering what is important and worthwhile to remind others. The bonds my children are building right now can breathe new life into them when they are older and lacking. It only takes one person with joy in their heart and a spirit of life about something to rekindle old memories and joys into someone else. Not only is God filling in the gaps of my parenting, but He can use my other kids to do it! There is something about a shared experience (even when the details are slightly different) to raise up hope and new life.
|My favorite pic of my Papa, J.D. and me at the Azalea Festival
|My Granny Susie, my brother and I
My sweet Aunt Nell passed away last month and one of the best things that came about aside from celebrating her was the stir of memories. Thinking of places and times that had long been forgotten swept me away onto water rapids made of tears. The best part was leaving that place with a deeper appreciation for the very special blessing my brothers and I were given for being a part of this large family rich with all kinds of blessings. Music, gardening, sharing what (little or a lot) you have with every neighbor and friend, and most of all a devotion and love for the one who gave us all things. I could write a book - and I might some day - of all the exceedingly special and significant things surrounding this sweet Elmore family that I get to ride on the coattails of. My grandparents have been gone since before I became a teenager and their precious home has been torn down and sold for a while now, but the diamonds that are still growing out of that small Healdton, Oklahoma house are becoming too many to count. And like this momma fears for her own little cubs, sometimes we forget the value of being a friend to every man like J.D. was or the healing goodness of a home-cooked meal like Susie always provided. Thankfully, you couldn't have known them without knowing the God they served for that love has flowed freely into all of their children as a constant reminder of what really matters. They have given us all a wonderful heritage to hold on to and remind us when we get off track.
No person can ultimately control the course of someone else's life and I know that there are many unknown events awaiting my children. But amidst dysfunction or tragedy, I can give my children the gift of a heritage. Some of it, like the heritage I received from my parents and grandparents, is already set. The rest is ongoing and that is up to me and Mr. Butler with God's help. What a beautiful ray of hope for the fearful "What if" kind of day I started with.