It has become more and more challenging to post these updates. As it turns out we have been on more of a journey than a trip. It has been exhausting at times but we have packed in as many visits as humanly possible. Even then, time has run out before I could see some people I hoped to see. The visits we did have however have had me thinking, praying, grateful.
There has been a theme to the conversations we have had over and over and over across the country and back as well as in the emails in between. Many of us are parenting adult people now. Let me just tell you that is surreal. And wonderful. And a little terrifying.
I remember so many of us as we navigated first pregnancies, colic, feeding, sleeping - or not sleeping. The days when the first trip to the grocery store alone with your newborn and toddler could strike fear in the bravest hearts. Those little people could cut loose with a blood curdling scream with no notice at all. They might vomit their body weight at church. Lock themselves into the public restroom. Stick tweezers into light sockets. Climb out windows. Get away from you at the library, skillfully remaining on the other side of the shelves while you dodge left and right with the stroller.
Ask me how I know.
There were days when you landed in bed exhausted just keeping them alive and well. It was hard to imagine it ever being harder than this. In truth what got us through some of those hours was the firm belief that when they 'got bigger' it was going to be SO much easier.
We were wrong about that.
There comes a day when you no longer have to put on their pjs nor put them to bed. But instead of sleeping soundly like you pictured, you find yourself lying awake praying they have enough snow driving skills to make it home ok. You no longer frantically search for that second church shoe but you may sit in the pew praying fervently for the child who is home questioning the faith. Instead of beating back the laundry monster you are skyping married children living in other states, your machine sitting quiet nearby.
It's not all bad. It's just not all as easy as we may have expected. You play your cards right and they grow up to be fascinating intelligent people. They also grow up to be people with free will and all the other challenges everyone has. They make decisions that may echo your own. Or they may make choices that are very different. (that part is often ok)
That bit about there being no second generation Christians is really true. That bit about learning from our own mistakes more than anyone else's is also true. They have to work out their stuff just like we did. This is where we move into an advisory role and then realize that we would give anything to once again be able to do all the work ourselves.
It's tempting to over analyze at this stage, especially if you still have children at home. Did we do things "right"? Were we strict enough? Too strict? Did we read enough books? Give them enough vitamins? What could we or should we have done differently?
We have spent the past several weeks sharing stories of those long ago years and connecting with people who knew us when. We have heard their stories. We have laughed til we cried. We have cried til we could laugh again. I kid you not - over and over and over again.
So when a younger mom asked me to elaborate about some impressions I had about the difference between raising kids "then" versus now I just was not quite able. Not yet. There are just not enough words formed yet to sum up. I can only say it was worth it, for all of us, this journey. It has stretched us beyond belief. Our hearts have a far greater capacity then we expected. Even when broken they hold joy we could not have dreamed of.
As one friend said, "It's been quite a ride."
Quite a ride indeed. I am privileged to have traveled along with so many awesome women. And as much as I miss them it is so incredible to have them sprinkled all over the world wherever we go. Here's to us, friends. This thing we are doing is as big as it feels. Big stuff.
(totally random and sorta unrelated recent snaps from the road)