Monday morning is most often spent erasing the evidence of our weekend...
Fingerprints get wiped off the fridge... dog slobber cleaned from the floor around her dishes... errant socks and shoes picked up and deposited in the hamper or the shoe rack... coffee cups gathered from favorite sitting spots... laundry started.
As the three little people who have spent their lives here have blossomed into full size adults, this space seems to get smaller. Sometimes the introvert in me feels a little trapped by all the bodies and stuff that go along with five full-sized bodies wandering within these walls. Five phones. Five backpacks/bags/purses. Cords, earphones, chargers, ipods, tablets, computers. Paper. Oh - the paper/mail/homework/books...
Sometimes it closes in on me.
It's not only the physical space that gets cramped... there is this unquantifiable expansion of ideas as well... five sets of opinions... five different ideas... five sets of values and standards... where there used to be the luxury of two people determining/setting the standards, there is now an assertion of youthful naivety/idealism that frankly, exhausts me at times.
If I spend too much time reflecting on my reality I can easily get caught up in self-pity... resenting the self-centeredness of those around me... these almost adult-people who take and take and take from me but give little in return. There is not a lot of room for giving back in their brains at this stage, I'm observing. Add to that a complete career overhaul in Asia's case and I find myself in a lonely spot much of the time. There are many hours spent alone because everyone else has somewhere else to be - and yet everyone expects things to be perfectly tended to on the home front... so I cook meals in an empty kitchen so there is food easily found in the fridge for leftovers and I fold clothes... outfits I may have never even seen them wear because I can easily go more than 24 hours without seeing one or more of the people I live with...
Sometimes it overwhelms me and all I can do is close my eyes and pray for grace. I know in my heart that I am in this final phase of parenting that will end all too soon and in the blink of an eye I will be wandering these rooms in deafening silence because all the bodies have found their way elsewhere. I long for it and I dread it all in the same breath.
There is also, of course, the looming question of 'what next?'
And the terrifying admission: 'I have no idea.'
And so I try my darndest to find joy in each moment... and to be grateful for the tension of loving these partially formed, awkward young adults that push me to the edge of my patience/frustration threshold... Letting them form their opinions and values and learn their own lessons without my intervention is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
I stand back and watch and listen and pray and follow behind them ready to lend a shoulder or pick up a sock or write a check or be a sounding board on the off chance one of them should turn around and see me there - ready and waiting for them to need me.
I feel invisible/unnecessary/irrelevant much of the time.
There is such a deep sorrow in admitting that.
And I know in my heart it is a lie.
But there it is.
No one told me when I was tending my babies that the sleepless nights and five years of donating my body to the nurturing of their tiny bodies would be a breeze compared to the gut-wrenching process of letting them go.
I am so blessed by an array of other moms who are walking this strange path of self-sacrifice... it's amazing to me how an almost complete stranger can hear one sentence about the season I find myself in and just know that I need a hand on a shoulder and a compassionate "it's SO hard, isn't it?" whispered in my ear... how a mom with toddlers can sense a need for reassurance that my awkward teenagers are actually pretty remarkable young people and give me reassurance that my years of effort have paid off. The most random interactions provide perspective - little bits of grace offered up by the sisterhood...
On this Monday morning I choose gratitude. As I rearrange our spaces and finish chores that were neglected by my busy roommates and pick up towels and socks and attempt to fit everything into the confines of these four walls, I hold onto the moment. The blessings. The promises of God's faithfulness and his provision and lovingkindness. The knowledge that I'm not in charge of any of it - and that I wasn't even when I lived in the illusion that my influence carried some sort of sacred significance. None of it has ever been in my control... I was just better able to convince myself of it when I thought I could define the boundaries of their world...
The truth of it all is that I've always been dependent on grace and mercy and Sovereignty.
It's just that now it is an unavoidable reality - like a punch in the gut over and over that knocks the wind out of me and leaves me gasping for air.
There is a beauty in coming to the end of yourself. Even while it feels excruciatingly life-sucking, it actually results in great beauty and wisdom. You have seen those women who carry their heads high with a grace that only comes from walking through great sorrow and sacrifice.
If that is what's next for me, I will feebly set my heart on that alter and offer it up and trust that there is a greater purpose in mind than my self-protective tendencies could ever understand...
I choose to trust in the Goodness of One who understands sacrifice and sorrow and rejection and resurrection.
Today, that is answered in the rhythm of folding clothes and being available to those who unknowingly depend on me and reject me in the same breath...
I will continue rely on a Strength not my own to give beyond my self.
And I will wait for the reward - knowing it may only come in bits and spurts - and embracing the fact that the degree of giving will never feel balanced with the reward... and that in fact the reward will eventually far outweigh the sacrifice.
Because God is good.