Monday, January 11, 2016

Empty beds. Full hearts.

My house is quiet tonight. Six Shraders woke up here this morning, but only four will climb into these beds tonight.


I want to wait and write with wisdom about how to cope when your kids leave for college. But I fear that I will never touch the computer keys again if that is my goal.

So instead, I will type and spill my heart and hope that in my transparency, you will learn something, anything that might help as you navigate your days.

We gave the kids a surprise trip for Christmas. I loved loved having them so close to me!! I will sprinkle random pics from that surprise throughout the post....because they make me smile!

A young photographer once saw me with my three preschoolers and convinced her editor to do a two-page spread in our local paper sharing the story of our little family. The article was beautifully written and a framed copy hangs in the hallway to the kids' rooms. Last night, I walked by and one of the emphasized quotes jumped out at me:

"They are my little miracles. I can not imagine life without them."

I felt the lump rising in my throat even then. Oh, goodness, I am so thankful for the gift of Benjamin, Mason, and Claire. They are indeed miracles and I pray we never ever take one day for granted. But this college thing -- this going to college, finding their independence and just frankly doing so beautifully at it (I beam with pride. Please know I beam.), is hard on the Mommy who meant that quote in ways she didn't even fully understand when they were four.

Motherhood is a crazy journey -- from the first moment, we are crazy-busy. From feedings to diapers to carpools and activity shuttling, Moms hit the ground running and it is full-speed ahead for years. With triplets, that was intense, and crazy and some days mind-numbing in the rapid-fire bottle-making, baby-holding, diaper-changing that ensued. But man, I had never in my life loved doing anything as much as I loved mothering these tiny babies.

A little girl time in the Bahamas.

Then this college thing happens, and for my two living on campus, my running has stopped cold. Oh, I still run Benjamin around and back to school and home and a billion places in between. And Cate is only 10 (thank you, Lord!) and requires more than her share of dropping off and picking up and bustling in between.

But it is so so so different in my house without all my chicks here. It is so different in my world to not be the one organizing schedules, activities and picking out little outfits (not matching but color-coordinated, please.). It is just so weird.

I am not used to it. I can't really see a light at the end of this getting-used-to-it-tunnel. But I love the sweet reunions. I love how we savor time together when we have it. And I love being in the cheering section as they accomplish their goals!

But those good-byes.

Cate was selected to be "Mary" in the Epiphany Service at her school -- it was before her big kids started back to school so I have another picture of my favorite foursome!!! (In slightly color-coordinated clothing...don't tell them I still do that!)

We have been through some hard seasons. There have been surgeries. Therapies non-stop. There have been unexpected illnesses and scary frightening hospital stays. There have been recovery seasons that were harder than hard and broken legs and broken feet and broken hearts. We know hard in this house. We know it. Then why, why, why am I struggling so hard to overcome the sadness of something as beautiful as the opportunity to go to college, for Pete's sake? Why?!!!!

Those stupid blasted good-byes.

But as I have told my children daily since they were old enough to listen: I have a choice. I have a CHOICE. I get to choose what today looks like. I get to choose.

So today, I choose to toast the new season. To embrace the reunions. To find some passions of my own. And to praise God mightily for the opportunities Benjamin, Mason, Claire and Cate are being granted. I choose joy. I choose joy as I have done in every hard season we have ever had. I choose it over wallowing in self-pity. I choose it over focusing on the empty beds and empty days and the knowledge that we will move forward from here. Not back. I choose it over sadness.

I choose joy. 

May 2016 be filled to overflowing with joy, my friends.

Carol - The Blessings Counter