Keeping my hands and mind busy helped. There were meals to cook, children to teach, and loads of laundry to wash. I was feeling thankful for the full day ahead of me. I plunged into it with determination to not let my mind dwell on what was missing.
All was going well. Breakfast had been served and cleaned up in record time. It was one of those rare school days where we finished everything in my lesson plans. Now it was time to fold some laundry and get supper cooking. Then it happened. It was right there in my hand, reminding me of what was gone. A simple pair of plaid boxers triggered the tears now cascading down my face.
I’m not sure how they ended up in the wash that day. It had been two weeks since he left home. Yet there they were. They belonged to him. I swiped the tears away, as I ran my hands over the soft worn fabric. From diapers to men’s boxers had happened so quickly.
This year our oldest son, Ryan, left home to attend college. I’ve decided when babies are born, they should come with warning labels that read:
“Will be painful when they leave home. Love at your own risk.”
Of course, a warning label wouldn’t have changed anything. I simply didn’t realize how hard it would be.
I have raised our children knowing they are God’s and only stay in our nest for a season. Yet when it was time to let our first one fly, my heart was sad. I wasn’t sad for him. The tears were for me. My role in life was changing, and it is a role that I have loved and embraced.
From the time I was a girl in pig-tails I had dreamed of having babies and loving them. I would tuck my dollies under my shirt and nurse them. I rocked them and cooked them dinner. We had school, and they would sit in their little plastic chairs hanging on my every word. In all that pretending though, they never left home.
I’m realizing I’ve lived that dream and have lived it to the fullest. God has been good. Now it is time to embrace the future and my new role that is developing. There are a few things I’ve found to do that have helped with the transition.
Pray for him every day. With Ryan being away from home, the reality that God is truly the one who watches and cares for our children hit home. I felt helpless to do much, but found it was alright. God is much more powerful and able to care for him then I am. So I pray first thing each morning, and I continue praying throughout the day each time I think of him.
Encourage him. I text my son a couple times a week to tell him I love him. At times I let him know what I prayed for him that day. Sometimes I send a Bible verse. Other ways I’ve found to encourage include e-mails, letters, and care packages. Our children need encouragement at every age.
Listen to him. As I prepared to write this post, I asked Ryan what I do for him that means the most. He answered, “You talk with me.” Generally, I don’t do a lot of the talking though. He’s the one talking. I’m listening and commenting. Ryan is encountering new ideas, friends, and circumstances. He needs someone to listen as he processes the world out there.
Boxers that appear in the laundry no longer prompt tears. Time is moving on. I’m finding new blessings in life. There is nothing to compare to the joy of anticipating his homecomings. It is fun planning his favorite foods and activities. Most of all though wrapping my arms around that big boy of mine when he walks in the door and breathing in the scent of him knowing I have a few days to treasure every moment is a glorious gift.
Natasha is a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of seven children. You can read more from Natasha on her blog: Mother of Seven.