Why Am I Crying?

1st day of schoolThe school year has begun and we’re back into routine.  Our newsfeeds were inundated with First Day pictures of neatly dressed children, immaculately combed hair, and beautifully artistic chalkboards announcing the new grade.  Our family’s very first “First Day of School” occurred last year.  I’d been monitoring the newsfeeds for years and had heard all my friends’ stories and read the blogs about this famed day.  I had tissue stuffed in my back pocket just in case, because I was told I’d need it.  I wasn’t so sure.

Allow me to explain.  I love being a mom.   It’s exactly what I had hoped for and dreamed of since I was a little girl, almost from the beginning.  I’m the kind of mom that enjoys reading stories to my kids (for a defined period). I enjoy going on hikes with them (when they’re not complaining about it the whole time).  And I enjoy watching movies with them because I love movies.

However, I really enjoy how my house feels when it is clean and everything is in its place.  A cluttered house in mayhem leaves me paralyzed.  So huge craft projects and the like?   Let’s just face it – 9 times out of 10, it isn’t happening in my house.  When I do cave and get out all the watercolors, I usually just leave the room so I don’t have to watch the destruction unfold in front of me.  I’m not spending hours in the kitchen developing a ton of nutritious, creative snacks.  I don’t enjoy it and they won’t eat it anyway.  And I’ve been counting the hours for six years until I could experience free time on a regular basis, in a quiet, clean house.

So these stories of tears and struggles watching their kids go off to Kindergarten didn’t seem to apply to me.  I assumed these mom friends were wired differently than I and have the patience of Job, tirelessly crafting with their kids.  Well, the truth is…I did cry watching my tiny, “big” boy trot off with his teacher.  And what surprised me is almost every day thereafter (when I wasn’t screeching in to the school drive to avoid tardiness), I would watch him trot off into that building and each time a part of me would die inside.  The tears were always waiting to spill, just inside my lids.  Another year has rolled around and I have all three of my kids in some sort of school.  I couldn’t sleep the night before my oldest daughter started Pre-K.  I’ve been through this before.  I should be a pro.  I’ve been craving this quiet, clean house all summer.  And still a part of me died when I left her in that room.

I now realize it’s the part of me that is supposed to die.  The part of me that wants to control everything around them to keep them safe.  The part of me that wants to make sure nothing ever hurts them.  The part of me that desires a place of prominence in their lives.  And that part of me needs to die, because it’s not my job to manage everything around them.  And while I play an extremely important role, I shouldn’t be the most important thing in their lives.  They belong to God and they have from the very beginning.  I’m simply a fiduciary, charged with loving them and guiding them to our true Father.   I must die to myself and allow my God to guard them, protect them, and show them who he is as THEIR God.  He is the most important thing in their lives.  With every milestone, I’ll continue to die with each step until I drop them off at college and see them get married and start their own families (for the record, I am NOT ready for that yet…baby steps).  My God is faithful and I can die to myself and trust Him.

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I Turned 40. Am I Over the Hill?

40th birthday cake“How does it feel?  Do you feel old or young?” , or my favorite, “Just be thankful you’re granted another day on this earth.”  These were the things that rattled in my head on my major milestone birthday.  I turned 40 this year.  I anxiously watched my high school classmates (one of the great things about Facebook) mount that hill that we are all destined to move over as long as we’re breathing.  Part of me snickered as I enjoyed my 30’s a tad bit longer since I am one of the younger ones from the class of 1992.  Funny, when I was waiting for my driver’s license it was definitely not cool to be among the youngest in my class.  But honestly when being among the youngest should have paid off in this moment, I didn’t fully enjoy it.  It just made the dread of reaching 40 more pronounced in my mind.

See, when my mom turned 40 she underwent a hysterectomy and that just seemed like an extremely old lady sort of thing to happen, which is exactly how a 16 year-old thinks (I’m looking forward to those days with my kids—I’ll receive paybacks in spades I’m sure).  Naturally 40 held strongly defined feelings of oldness for me.  I’m a take-charge kind of person, so I needed to manage this.

I was actually pretty impressed with how my classmates really owned this age and claimed it with pride.  I decided I would own it too.  When I was much younger, it was sort of a tradition to go ahead and take on my next age as soon as school let out for summer since my birthday was in August.  My family would roll their eyes, but I justified it because I really wasn’t my current age if you hold to the 0.5 rounding up rule.  I reinstated that tradition this summer and assigned myself the age of 40 three months early, only it didn’t really help.  I told people I was embracing it, but deep inside, I couldn’t erase the feeling that my life was halfway over (if I’m lucky).

Then finally it came.  I rose quietly on the early morning of August 5th.  I put on my running shoes and took to mountain trail by my house, thinking all my thoughts.

When was the last time I just couldn’t wait for my next birthday?  Probably 21.  I’m not much of a drinker, so it wasn’t for that reason but more because I could if I wanted to.  No one could tell me no.  Freedom.  Authority.   Finally.

How was turning 21 different than turning 40?  Who was I then and how am I different now?  Well, at 21 I had my whole life in front of me.  Nothing but dreams and hopes and aspirations.  I could do anything if I really wanted.  I was hopelessly insecure, trying to figure out who I was.  I was desperate to try to prove to myself and to the world around me that I really was something.  I was smart and capable, and so deeply unsure of myself.  My 20’s had to be some of the most awkward years of my life, and that’s saying something after my very nerdy junior high and high school days.  I had no idea who I was.

Today, I’m 40.  I have my whole life in front of me.  Nothing but dreams and hopes and aspirations.  I can do anything if I really want.  I am secure because I have a God who loves me and has proved himself to me.  I am nothing without Christ and I am completely secure in Christ.  I know who I am because He has defined me.  I have dreams because He has given me a purpose and a vision.   I can do anything because he has empowered me to do His will.  And this is truth no matter your age.

40 will be different than 21.  Oh yes, my 40’s will be the best yet.

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