As I type, I hear someone slowly creeping towards my dark bedroom.
No fear, just extreme frustration. I know it is one of my children, trying to get to me (for the billionth time.) Trying to delay bedtime, just a moment more.
A body appears. “Mom, do you still love me?”
“I love you. I will always love you. GO to bed.”
A few more words typed onto this page. Then, again. A child appears.
“Mom, I’m sorry.”
I forgive you. GO to bed. FOR GOODNESS SAKE, GO. NOW.
Only 6 days ago, I held my beautiful niece for the first time. She made me an Aunt. The love swelled and came so easily. I watched as my sister and brother in law fell in love with their child. Worried for their child. Felt sheer exhaustion. Entered parenthood. It was a new beginning for all of us. They started this journey that, at this moment, feels like it may swallow me whole. I try to go back to those precious moments. Even those good moments that happened here, just hours ago.
My child is still restless. Relentless. I can hear her down the hall, sighing and pacing. It’s been a long day. It is back to school. Back to routine. Back to business. And even bigger than that, we are on day 12 of missing Dad. He is off spending time making memories with his dad, hiking in Europe. We are here, aided by my mother in law (no small task on her part, she’s been a huge help) but feeling the gap. Missing that other parent.
Again, I hear words from my child who is still not sleeping. Calling out, trying to get me to do what she wants. But I can’t. I must sit here, be firm and follow through on my request to her, GO to bed.
When I was 22 years old, my mentor and dear friend lost her husband, very unexpectedly. He was 43 and gone in an instant. She was alone, had three young children. And without a choice or say in the matter, she became a single parent. Drew and I have watched her. Mourned with her. Lived life with her. Been blessed by her. Learned from her. I have learned that the human spirit is an amazing thing. Love can carry us through. Suffering may change us, but if we choose, it will not destroy us. And most of all, community, family, God….it makes all the difference.
I think of her parenting alone. Making decisions alone. But, doing it. Moving forward. Loving her children so completely, so unreservedly. Watching them grow into beautiful adults. Facing some things that most of us cannot even fathom. Living a life she had not planned, but still, living. Really, LIVING.
Tonite, I’m tired. I’m longing for my husband who is a continent away. A husband who will be with me tomorrow. A husband who I plan to once again wake up with, laugh with, fight with, parent with, learn with, LIVE with. But, their are no guarantees that tomorrow will happen this way. How do I know? I have watched it happen to people I love. But, for now, IN THIS MOMENT, we have each other.
And I know, oh how I hope!……that…..tomorrow…..or the next day……when that child is creeping down the hallway, LONG after bedtime. After an evening of tension- I can say, “I’m exhausted. I don’t know what to do.” And I’ll know, that I can pass that baton. I’ll ask him take care of it this time.
Have you heard that phrase? “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?”
OH, it’s fond, my dear. I’m feeling DEEPLY grateful for you.
And next week, when we are completely fed up with each other?
Tell me to come read this blog post.