Please excuse the double dose of maudlin, but I just dropped my baby off for his very last day of preschool.
I was sucker punched. I didn't see it coming.
Because I didn't see it coming, I might be forgiven for also not realizing just what happens when you allow yourself to look back for a picture of your youngest to post on your blog about sending him to his last day of preschool...
You find this picture:
And when you find THIS picture, isn't it possible that you might not quite imagine the hand that reaches into your chest and twists your heart, pulls it, and squeezes it until you almost can't breathe?
Look at those little faces. Look at the promise in those eyes, the potential. The futures ahead. Here they all are, my four precious precious gifts, and I have to ask myself, what have I done with them? How many many times have I fallen short? How many many times have I forgotten to see them for the glorious spirits they are?
EVERY SINGLE DAY.
It's enough to send me to my knees, I tell you.
And really, is there anywhere else to go?
I take a glance back and wonder how I can be forgiven for failing them over and over, for not giving them enough structure, for not providing them enough magic, for getting caught in the mess of life and not rising above it.
I take a glance forward and fear that I'll still fail them over and over, that my best intentions will never be met, or my second-best intentions, or my mediocre intentions, to be quite honest. These glorious people...how could I have been entrusted with them?
On my knees, I beg for grace to make up where I lack. I beg. And beg. And beg. Because isn't that the only way to wholeness? To allow grace to fill in the gap? The gaping, yawning, immense gap between the mother I wish I were and the mother I really am?
Job's wife looked back with regret and turned into a pillar of salt. If I look back with regret, I may well be paralyzed as well. Fear paralyzes, doesn't it? Isn't that a lesson I've learned over and over? Fear that I won't be enough, fear that more loss is ahead, fear that I can't do what is needful... The more I dwell on these things, the less likely I am to take one step and one more step and one more. To read another book at bedtime, to plan a trip to the zoo, to lay under the stars on the trampoline, to snowshoe through sparkling white, or to speak of eternal things while walking in fall leaves.
The only way through is grace.
Well, and gratitude. That helps, too.
I leave an era of little people behind today, an era of grasping hands, of baby food, diapers, learning ABC's, of literally climbing up and down my body, Little People, lisping voices, putting on Daddy's shoes, teething, singing nursery rhymes, eating rocks, eyes big with wonder at new discoveries, sleeping with crowns on their heads, uneven steps, princesses, superheroes, and the infallible belief that I know everything, that I can make everything better.
They now know that I'm fallible. It's hard. But being fallible doesn't mean I've failed them. They have love in abundance. They have clothes and food and books and toys and work and a roof over their heads. They have smiles that light up
rooms. They are learning...maybe not as fast or as well or as perfectly
as I imagined when they first laid that little Josh in my arms, but they
The world awaits them. They'll learn the same thing I'm learning now, that despite its imperfections, it is full of glories and wonders and beauties. They'll learn that they'll fall short, that they'll fall down. I'll cross my fingers that they'll lift themselves up and keep trying, keep going, keep looking for things to make it worth being here in this beautiful, treacherous, amazing world. And maybe one day they will (God willing) drop off their littlest at preschool and maybe they'll wonder the same thing...
How did it happen so fast?