They tell us all the time, the transitions will get easier.
They tell us that what is hard with our first-borns will be easier with babies 2, 3 or 4.
That we will get used to it, the long good-bye of parenting…
And I am certain now that these well-meant words of encouragement are lies.
This afternoon, my sweet, third-born baby (who happens to be 13), will get on a bus with friends from youth group and school and head on up to a weekend away in Wisconsin. He will stretch his comfort zone as he plays and sleds and competes. He will soak up Bible study and speaker wisdom and hear exactly what God wants him to hear.
He has not even left and I miss him already.
It is not my first time. But it does not feel easier. I remember when Noah went and I could not fathom having no contact with him for a whole weekend. We felt the absence of him here all weekend. And truth be told, there may have been a few minutes, very late on Saturday night, when I decided that heading up to bring him home was the best idea I have ever had. Mark thought differently, and kept the van keys from me.
Two years later, we faced it again: Benjamin, packing and bouncing and bursting with excitement that it was finally his turn to go. For those two days, the house felt quiet. Peaceful. Uncharacteristically us, the whole weekend long.
I tell myself all the right things. I do. I tell myself that these children have been entrusted to me, not given. I remind myself that learning to let go of them takes years and the more we can practice in little ways, the more prepared we all will be for the bigger good-byes.
And, of course, all of this is true.
And yes, it is just a weekend. I know this full well. But it is not the amount of time he will be away that I feel, it is the meaning behind the time.
Standing where I stand, preparing to hug my boy good-bye in just a few hours, I know that it is a rite of passage and that this rite will bring more of the same. I know that this big step away also leads to the ability to see bigger and more varied paths. And it is all good. It truly is. But, I am his momma. And he is my boy. And we have lived this family life for so very long that some short-sighted part of me wanted to believe that we get to keep it.
While there is a loss there, there is also a celebration. I was meant to love them for a time and I will do so FIERCELY. I have these few days to pour into them the truths I know about life and family and faith and all the little things we love so well. And these weekends of separation and growth are not only for them. These experiences are also a reminder for me that my days here with my four kids are numbered. My kids are growing up (and some of them, out). And as hard as that can be, it is right and good for them.
So, I made sure to look this morning. To truly see.
I shopped for snacks and warmer socks.
And I will pray. And pray and pray.
I will storm the gates of Heaven and pray protection over my boy and ask the God of all to whisper to Josiah exactly what He needs him to hear.
And I will count the days, the hours, until the weekend is done and my boy comes home and I wrap my arms around this child (who likely skipped a shower or two) and I will listen to his tales and stare at his face and store up the whole of it while it is still mine to store.
They say the transitions get easier with time. This is all a lie.
It may be different, but I will miss him all the same.