I cannot describe to you what it is like to have life growing inside of you. Moms know the thrill of the first stirring of butterfly wings tickling from the inside. Over the months, the tickles turn to kicks and turns causing anyone close by to observe the miracle of movement. Strangers come and put their hands on your abdomen but you don’t mind, because you are amazed at the transformation of your body. You tolerate the widening of your hips, the ache in your back, and the stretch marks all while you carry the burden, welcome it even, because you know the sacrifice is for your child. The bond is there from the first moment…you are connected. It is more than just physical; a part of you is woven within this new life. You are acutely aware that this being did not originate from you but from God. You are humbled that he would allow you to participate as a carrier of such grace. He expands your heart even as your waistline grows. Just when you think you will burst from the love, the pain starts…excruciating, horrible pain that you think will kill you. Moments, or in my case hours, later the most exquisite human emerges and your heart changes forever. You know in an instant you would die for this child…the love is that great. The fingers, and tiny little toes. The small nose and little mouth. When you look into those eyes, that are looking back at you, the awe and wonder are overwhelming. The pain is gone, leaving behind the pride and joy of a lifetime. What you do not realize then, is that this is the first time your child leaves you…the first separation happens the minute the cord is cut. It is the beginning of a lifetime of intricately intertwined dichotomy moments. Love and pain. Joy and heartache. Painful tears are linked with happiness over and over as they transform your life.
Each first we celebrate, is one more step away from us. First step. First tooth. First haircut. First day of school. All milestones in a life that is growing. All happy occasions. It is when our car pulls away from the school that our hearts stop. We realize what is happening as part of us disappears out of view. That is when we know we have limited time with them and that we must make the most of every moment. We nurture and pour all that we have into these little ones. We know how wrong life can go, and it becomes our mission to protect our children from that kind of pain. Only we can’t. Not really. We go to our knees then. We pray with abandon for our children. Our hearts cry out. We try to trust God to carry them and we point them to him, hoping that he can do what we cannot. The more they grow, the more we pray because we see the fierce desire they have for independence. The boys especially seem to have a mission…do not need. Our hearts break as they push us away, yet we know it is the right thing. Separation. It is time.
I am standing once again at graduation day. Once again, I have a bittersweet moment to get through today. Once again, I face the pain knowing that the joy far outweighs it. I know that my grown children still need me even if they don’t always say it. I cannot wait to see who they become. I have lived my life preparing them for moments like this…the ones where they walk away from me and into the future. It has been my prayer that they would be secure in my love for them. That they would know God deeply. That they would find his greatest purpose for their lives…whatever that is. Putting them on planes, moving them to other cities, watching them make mistakes, and rejoicing when they succeed are all a part of this prayer. If anything, the prayers become more fervent now as my heart breaks apart and travels around the world. Today is a day of celebration as William walks across that stage into the next phase of his life. I will cry, even as I smile. And the pain and love will mingle once again.

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