Often in the context of my life as a mother to two kids, I find myself wondering how people have more children. It is chaotic and loud. My mommy brain is in full swing as I never am able to focus on one thing at a time which results in me forgetting things all of the time. Getting out the door is like herding cats. I get one kid to the door, turn to finish shoes and coat with the other and as I send them to the door, I realize the first one has wandered away.
Both my best friend and brother and sister-in-law have five kids. So many times in the midst of the chaos I find myself wondering how they do it. If my children are wandering away one at a time from the door, how do they ever leave with all five kids?!
Other times, I see how full their lives are though and find myself a little jealous. I love my kids and getting to be their mother. My heart is so full of joy. After Turkey-Man, I could not imagine it being able to expand with more love and delight if we added more children. Magically, somehow, it did when Little-Flower joined our lives. I can only guess how the hearts of my best friend and brother and sister-in-law must feel.
The other night though, I found myself feeling a very different emotion. Turkey-Man will be five next month. He will soon no longer be a preschooler, but a little boy. I am faced in a short time with having to send him out into a world I cannot protect him from. Right now, I can hold his hand as we cross the street. I watch him in social settings, able to subtly step in and help him manage the dynamics. This fall, I will have to let him go into a world that I will not be a part of.
My best friend homeschools. Last week, I laid next to him while he slept. With tears in my eyes, I found myself wishing that homeschooling was the right answer for our family. Turkey-Man is very extroverted. He thrives in social settings. I know he will enjoy the school experience far more if he is surrounded with people. But, that night, I was wishing for ways I could protect him a little longer.
Then, it occurred to me. Five times the chaos, noise and love also means five times of gradually letting go. Five times my best friend and brother and sister-in-law have to stare down the barrel of letting their children enter into a world which they can no longer protect them from.
It is scary. I am sure it has been for generations, but it seems like the world is more violent and vulgar than ever before. There are ways of bullying that did not exist when I was a kid. I never had to worry about anyone talking poorly about me in a manner in which the whole world can see. There was never the possibility of one click of a mouse leading me to a world that no one should see.
Turkey-Man has such a kind, sensitive heart. He sees the world in such a blissful, naïve manner. We have protected our children however we could, while simultaneously balancing the need for them to get some exposure. We are careful about the places we take our children; who they are surrounded by; what they see on TV; and what they hear on the radio. We have done our best to fill their lives with wholesome examples and messages. Next year, when Turkey-Man enters school, I will lose some of our ability to do that.
I worry how this exposure will impact him. I fear that somehow his delightful nature will get changed. I want him to remain my innocent, joyful little boy forever. I know, however, that it is not possible.
Someday, he will outgrow all of the protection we have to offer. Right now, it is the exposures that come with attending school. One day, he will walk out of our door, never to live with us again.
As I lay there last week, I found myself pleading with God to protect Turkey-Man in ways that I no longer will be able to. I begged him for the wisdom I would need to help him navigate the world as he is increasingly exposed to it. Prayer is the only control over the future that I have.
I do not want to be the overprotective mother, unable to let go. I know it is healthy for him to gain this exposure when he is small and I am able to soften what he sees to some degree. One day, my protective role will be gone and I will be left praying that I have been everything he needed to function in the world he will enter.
In my conversation with God, it occurred to me that prayer is ultimately the only defense we have a mothers. It is the only things we can do without ceasing in our children’s lives. We can’t hold their hands forever, but we can always pray. That brought me solace. While I might not be able to always protect him, I can always ask God to.
After praying, I found myself more relaxed. I started remembering all of the things I enjoyed about school. I began to feel excited for all that he will get to experience and the memories that he will make. He loves people and he loves two learn. Those are two attributes that will carry him far in this world.
With a calmer heart, I was able to leave his side and crawl into my own bed. Relieved with remembering I could always pray for him and excited for the adventure he is about to embark on, I rolled over and drifted off to sleep.
Thank-you God for the peace that only you can provide!