Saturday, March 01, 2008
Let Them Go, Let God.
All $400 worth of that little blue '62 Ford Falcon sat buried up to her eyebrows in snow. Too much dust has settled on the 'how' and 'why' she got there for me to ever remember. She belonged to me, and it was my job to get her back home.

I don't remember many spankings. When Mom did get mad we'd sometimes laugh at the sight of a tiny woman fussing and fuming at the lot of us six kids. Maybe she didn't discipline much because she was so outnumbered. She was a bit of a pushover truth be told, but she could dig her heels.

That's exactly what she did. My car was stuck in a snowbank as tall as me, and I was scared to drive it home. I tried to convince her we could just leave it til the snow melted and the streets were clear. She didn't budge. I remember grabbing a shovel, digging it out, and somehow I got it home. I don't recall all the details, but life lessons don't need every detail intact to stick with you.

Sometimes you have to do the hard things in life. Sometimes nobody else can do them for you. Even if they gave birth to you, even if everything in them wants to save you from whatever hard thing it is that has your name all over it.

I'm done with that time of raising children, making them do the hard things. Now it's just part of them being adults. The three kids I raised get up every day, take care of the kids they chose to have, pay the bills they made, work at jobs they went to school to earn the right to go to, invest in marriages they committed to. They forge friendships, buy and sell houses, make moves, they've all signed on to fully live the adult lives they were so anxious to start when they were all about 15 years old. And they don't dodge the hard parts. They aren't calling on the phone, trying to figure a way out of whatever got dished up and served as the challenge of the day, albeit a sick child, grouchy boss, flat tire or all three.

Back in 1976, laboring to produce my first child, they had to throw that same mother of mine out of the hospital labor room three times. She couldn't do it for me, but she sure tried to get as close to me as she could. Too close, apparently. The last time she ventured too near, I believe they mentioned security guards...

It's not them asking, it's the mother in me, in her, in you, that never stops wanting. Much like that Energizer Bunny, we just don't stop - hovering, watching, wanting, yearning, leaning in and holding our breath in the stands.

My mom couldn't do the labor, literally the hard part, the work, of bringing a child into the world. Likely after doing it six times herself, she wasn't really volunteering to do so. Being a mother for three decades now, I understand she just needed to be there for me. To support, and fret, and pray, as I did what nobody else could. I had to do the hard thing, go through the labor then the hours of pushing, to birth that child. I've had four of those days myself. Four days waiting for my child to birth a child, days when doing the labor myself might have been less painful than knowing what they were enduring.

I've also learned if someone had stepped in, signed up to take over for me, I would have been robbed of that feeling of elation, of triumph. By gosh, I did it! Little me, this 20 year old woman/child. Look what I can accomplish! Still, my mom stood by as close as she could get, cheering me on even when I couldn't hear her voice. I knew she was there. When my children were having children, they knew I was 'there' too, even 1200 miles away. I was right there next to them inside. My sister's daughter will deliver a bouncing baby girl, Avery, on Monday, and everything in me knows how both of them is feeling. I've done both - bringing forth the child, and then standing on the sidelines waiting while that child brings forth hers. Mothering and mothering.

This mothering thing gets ahold of you so tight, so hard, so deep - you never stop wanting to take away the hard parts, do it for them, or at least make it easier. You want to step in everywhere you shouldn't, or at least more than you should. Because you did it for so long, anything else goes against everything inside you. When they're 25 or 28 or 32 it doesn't feel much different, wanting them to have great friends, or a successful career, or purpose in life, than it did when you worried if they'd have someone to sit next to on the bus, or would they be asked to the Winter Dance, or would they make the cut on the basketball team. Would the teacher be nice, would their score be enough to get into that school? Would they make the right choice, stand alone when they needed to? Would they learn the lesson when they didn't?

One thing I didn't know about mothering back then, but learned from years spent completely covered up in it 24/7 - it never, ever gets easy to step back, and let them do the hard things. Let them be separate from you, watch them slide from being your child to becoming that adult you raised who is a child of God. How my mother must have wanted to just scrape off the snow, put the key in and drive us home, that snowy day in Denver so many years ago. But she didn't.

That day she let me see I was capable of harder things than I thought I was. Today, that lesson still reminds me my 'kids' are too. Let them go, let God. Let them go, let God. When my mother-in-law was in her mid-90's and we'd get ready to fly home, she'd make her son, who just happened to be my mid-50's husband, promise to call her when we arrived safely. He was still her little boy, and she'd fret til she heard he was fine. At 52 I still do it. At 95 I apparently still will.

It never gets easy. Let them go, let God.


  posted at 10:00 AM

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