Fair Warning For Mommies

Senior woman laughing

Older women are cruel.  They deliberately conceal important information.  They sit back and watch those who journey down the path after them.  Relaxed, sipping their tea by the roadside, they see us trip and stumble.  They spy our skinned knees and bewildered expressions, and they smile knowingly.  I think it’s like a spectator sport to them.

No one told me I’d grow a beard.  Even before the dewy blush of youth had faded, I found coarse, gnarly sprouts on my chin, upper lip, and even my neck for Pete’s sake.  When I mentioned this distressing find to the older women in my life, they laughed.  Laughed.  Hmmph!

They neglect vital tidbits like how dangerous it can be to sneeze after pregnancy and childbirth.  Hemorrhoids, incontinence, skin that no longer fits and body parts that travel south; you’d think someone would think to mention these things!

No one prepares us for motherhood.  They don’t tell us that the exhaustion of having small children makes your eyes so gritty they feel like they’ll bleed, or that sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations.  They don’t warn us that our bodies, our minds, and our emotions will never again be our own.

What’s next, ladies?  C’mon.  Fess up!  Help me to prepare myself, would you?

But then again, maybe it’s not some diabolical senior mean-girl conspiracy after all.  Perhaps their years have simply afforded them a unique wisdom.  A perspective that says you can never really understand or prepare for certain things until you’re in the thick of them.

My oldest baby flew away yesterday.  I left her standing in her dorm room, looking lost and brave and oh, so beautiful.  I knew she wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye.  I also knew that if I didn’t do it quickly I would begin wailing and seriously embarrass us both.  She would forever be branded as the girl with the crazy, weeping mother.  I had heard that this would be hard, but nothing I’d been told even remotely prepared me for this.  I honestly don’t know how my legs held me up on the way out the door.

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, ‘I have to take her to college today’.  Then, as my bleary brain began to truly reboot, I remembered that I had already done that.  She is gone.  Her room is empty and lifeless, and now we must learn how to do this day to day living without her here.

The waves of grief crash over me at unexpected moments.  I can’t breathe and my heart feels as though it’s been ripped from my chest cavity, put through a blender and stuffed back in all bloody and thick like some macabre cardiac smoothie.  I wonder if one can die from an emotional cocktail of love, anguish, excitement, and fear.

I know that she is in God’s capable hands, and in that knowledge I am perfectly peaceful.  But my selfish mama’s heart is shattered and I don’t know how to stop the pain.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that this is good and right and normal.  I just didn’t know it would hurt quite this bad, so I feel duty-bound to warn you ladies who haven’t made it to this particular bend in the road yet, though I know it will do little good.  None of us are prepared to let go.

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Sitting in the new light of morning, feeling numb and spent, my youngest daughter stumbled out of her room.  Her rounded cheeks had that warm and sleepy look.  I stroked her frizzled bed head.  I hugged her and my aching heart filled.  It felt whole and hollow, restored and raw, delighted and devastated, all at once.

This is the mystery of a mommy’s heart.  When the Lord filled my womb, He also changed out the tiny grinch heart I had.  He replaced it with one more like His own.  A bottomless heart, capable of a ferocious sort of love that is protective and sensitive.  One that feels more keenly, yet can withstand the inevitable wounds that come from living this life.  And so, I feel incredibly grateful amidst my grief.  I am grateful for every painful moment, because it is evidence of the love I share with this remarkable young woman.  My mommy’s heart is filled with inexpressible pride and joy today.  It also hurts more than I ever dreamed it could.

Hang on tight to your babies today, my friends.  Love them fiercely.  Love them enough to bleed when they go.  It is hard, but it is good.  Now you’ve been warned.

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”
–Debra Ginsburg, author

*Dandelion photo by samarttiw at freedigitalphotos.net

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10 thoughts on “Fair Warning For Mommies

  1. There seems to be a culture war going on. The young will not, or are afraid to ask, the older generation of ladies to help them out and the older generation feels their job is done and do not wish to help out. (sigh) It would be lovely if we could cross these lines and pair women up for discipleship purposes. The oldest women in the church really ought to be teaching us young ones how to do things. Sadly, this is not usually the case.

    Let us pray that as we become that next older generation, we will have learned our lessons and be ready to pass them along.

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    • A worthy thing to pray for, indeed. I find it ironic that the older and wiser we get, we find that no one wants to listen. I fear that the past few generations til now have become very unteachable. Humility is not a virtue that is prized or taught anymore. I know I have been as guilty as any of this. It is my heart though, to learn and grow, then to pass on what wisdom I have when opportunities arise. I pray as well for open hearts and His leading in my speech. Perhaps if our generation takes a loving interest in the next, we can change things, yes? Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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  2. You are right. Some things you have to learn for yourself. Would we really believe—fully—when the older ladies try to warn us? Maybe it is God’s way of making sure we procreate. If we fully understood what we were getting into with that first baby, maybe we would have decided to get a puppy.
    When my first child married I stood in his neat, empty bedroom and cried. I knew our family would never be the same. And he only moved TWELVE MINUTES away!
    Guess what else no one could have prepared me for? The double love that you feel for grandchildren. It is so powerful I am in awe. You love that baby, and you love YOUR baby who is now a parent and you want to protect it with everything in you because you are also protecting your child. Whew. The emotional-wreck business never ends, dear Rebeca!
    Beautifully written as usual. You kick-started my tear ducts this morning! (in a good way 🙂

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    • The emotional-wreck business never ends? Good heavens, I’m not sure I can take it! I was never a terribly emotive person, but I find the tears flow more freely the older I get. Is it just hormones, or is it a result of more years of loving, I wonder? With the wider perspective of age, I think I have a wider capacity for feeling. Hmmm.

      I can hardly wait for grandbabies. I shall take your words to heart and brace myself. It makes perfect sense that there will be a double whammy of protectiveness and love.

      Thanks for reading, and for sharing your wisdom, Anita. Have a blessed weekend!

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  3. I’m doing it little by little – the letting go. But I doubt that it will be enough for the day that they will inevitably leave. It’s wonderful how you captured the experience.

    Have a great weekend! ~ Mary

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    • Thank you, Mary! You’re right that it probably won’t be enough for that final day, but it’s a start. 🙂 I wonder if it will be this hard with all of them, or just the first? I guess time will tell. Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful week!

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  4. Yeah, I find a terrible amount of irony in the fact that I sometimes have to use wrinkle cream and zit cream on the same day. So so unfair. As a teen I thought adulthood would turn out to be WAY cooler than it has turned out to be!

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