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The truth about launching our kids

 

     Grief.  That’s what I’m feeling this morning.  Please allow me to wallow once again. 

     Mamas, don’t ever let anyone tell you that once your kid leaves, you grieve for a season and then its over.

     True lies.

     I know, I know.  You’re tired of hearing me whine about my kids leaving home. 

      It’s where I am.  Please allow me this. 

     “Well, at least you still have one at home.”  “At least you have Sawyer” (number one grandson).  “At least your oldest lives in the same town.”   Thanks, but it’s not the same.

     They ALL lived with me at one point in life.  For most of my life, actually. 

     I’ve grieved for each of them.  The oldest has been married for three years – I did my grieving during her college tenure.  Once she married and I knew she was happy (and the next town over), I was good.

     My son is gone.  He’s off in Tennessee living his dream, serving the Lord in his church, attending University of Tennessee, playing jazz and loving life.  Working.  I’ve come to grips with it finally – but not without tears every time he visits. (Well, not when he visits – after he leaves.)


     My daughter left yesterday for her summer ministry.  Do you know how long a summer ministry is?  All summer.  She’ll return one week before her senior year of college begins.  My eyes are leaking.


     Did I mention she’s visiting Texas, Missouri, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Ohio?  In that order?!    

     Funny thing about kids – raising them to leave is like a losing piece of your heart and watching it walk off in someone else’s body. 

     Every time they go, it’s similar to ripping open a flesh wound.  Exposing it raw, the pain resurfacing.

     I always struggle that first full day without them.  Jim usually finds me snuffling in a corner, trying to hide my tears.


     Sawyer is addicted to “Finding Nemo”.  I taught him the song “B-I-N-G-O” (there was a farmer had a dog and BINGO was his name – O).  As he attempted the chorus with me, I realized he was singing, “Nemo was his name – O.” As Nemo played for the third time this morning, through my tears, I recognized my character in that movie. 

     I always thought I was Dory, because I literally forget everything ASAP.  Once, after dropping my son off for ball practice, I asked him a question.  In the car. After I pulled away.  He did not answer.  I asked him again, louder.  The car was full of chattering kids, and my friend (and partner in crime) Beth, riding shot gun,  looked at me as if to say, “Are you serious, or are you just working on early dementia?”   She had to break the news to me.

     You might have too many kids if…

     Anyway, turns out – I’m Marlin.  (Nemo’s over anxious dad.)


     I’m so afraid for my kids.  It’s a big blue sea out there, and all I want is for them to be safe and happy.  I’ve let them go, they are moving on with their lives, but oh, how I wish I could oversee them for the rest of it, just like when they were little.  I don’t want anything to happen to them.

     “You can’t never let anything happen to him – then nothing would ever happen to him.  Not much fun for little Harpo.”

     Oh, how I wish I could shelter them from any pain, emotional, physical, or otherwise. 

     If I could just put a gate around them, like when they were little (we had a device called a “play pen” back in the archaic early ’90’s).


     “Let us see what Squirt can do.”

     And then, Squirt gets swept away in the EAC.  It looks like he’s a goner, but he resurfaces, having learned how to swim that current on his own. 

     The current of life.

     I cry some more.

     “How do you know when they’re ready?”  Marlin poses the question to the turtle dad named “Crush”.  “Well dude, you never really know, but when they know, you’ll know – ya know?”

     I think they know. 

     They know they’re ready.  They’re more than prepared.  I’ve been having them wash their own laundry for years.  I taught them how to look both ways before crossing the street.  How to speak to adults, hold an intelligent conversation, make decisions, cook, clean, stay away from drugs, and never eat raw eggs.

     I’ve taught them the Word, they know, they seek, and now they serve.  Of their own free will.

     What am I worried about?  I’ve given them the most valuable tool of all – a relationship with the Lord of the Universe.  Who loves them more than I ever could.

     Yes, there is the unknown.  They could get hurt.  Or worse.  But they know their destiny.  They know where they’re headed.  They are confident of this very thing.


     And so, I know all this.  I believe all this.  I am sure of all this.

     Oh, how we squeezed the life out of May – we always do.  It’s our chance to have a full month with the whole family while Hayley is home.  We camped in the Smokies, built campfires in the backyard, soaked up Sawyer time, the whole family slept under one roof one night, grandparents were visited, favorite meals prepared.  We did all the things on her list.

     But just let me grieve.  I’ll be better tomorrow – I always am.  It’s a process.  You know – the 5 stages.  I’m already sensing the fog lifting.  My friend Christi said I could ride her camel to the oasis.  She has a second hump. 

     I’m going to be ok.  If you’re a mom traveling this same road, you’re going to be ok too.  One step at a time.  Let us see what Squirt can do.

 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39
    
    
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Linking up with these great folks: Dance with Jesus Link Up

Holly Barrett      purposefulfaith.com

 

 

Woman to Woman Ministries

                                                         

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Gina
    June 5, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Now I'm wrecked. And I'm wondering the best way to soak it all in… Life is good, no matter how tired I am at the end of the day. These kids deserve the best I can give them.

  • Reply
    Adrian
    June 5, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Oh my gosh! We can be Marlon Mamas together! I feel the exact same way. My son and daughter in law are looking for a house and I'm praying they don't find one far Way. Right now they live a mile away and I LIKE it that way. And my youngest ends his Junior year today. So bittersweet. One more year and then what? Who knows. Just keep swimming, I guess.

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 5, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Gina, I so appreciate your passion for your kids. The truth is, you ARE soaking it in. I know you want to consciously do this. And I think you are doing a better job than you think you are. It is clear mothering is your passion. Steady the course.
    And – just keep swimming!

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 5, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Yes! We are in the same boat of life, Adrian. I love your wit. And I hope your son doesn't move too far away. It's so hard, the unknown! Good luck with the Almost Eagle project and hang in there!

  • Reply
    Michelle
    June 5, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Finding Nemo movie, had so many lessons for us parents. I am so Nemo's dad!! Everything you said, I say too. I want to hold on as long as I can. I still try and hold on even though they are on their own. I know in my heart I've done well, but the thought of letting them do adulthood and not being able to do anything but be there if and I mean IF they need us is so very hard. Your heart…. is my heart, every parent's heart. Yes, we will be okay, but it tears at our hearts still a bit.

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 6, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Yes, you and I have a lot in common on this, Michelle! Arg, it is so hard! Thanks for your support as usual! We can do this journey!

  • Reply
    Christi
    June 7, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    OH, i love this. So much I want to quote.

    I feel all you are saying and can read between the lines at what you aren't. My baby enters her senior year in high school this year and as I watched her sing on stage for the class of 2015 last weekend, I imagined me, the mother of my last grad, sitting there next year and a flood of tears swept over.

    Continuing to pray for you as you settle back in and believing that God knows when to send new people and ministry to fill our lives when they become less full of the original people and ministry He filled our lives with for so long!

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 7, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Yes, friend, we are in the same boat, so to speak. The closer we get to the bottom of the barrel, the harder it gets! You and I – we are beginning to scrape bottom!
    You get me. You get where I am because you are there too and I'm so glad God gives us new ministries and new people who encourage us and cheer us on – such as yourself!
    Well said – that last part. Amen.

  • Reply
    Christi
    June 7, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    OH, and jump on my camel any time 🙂

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 7, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Let me just grab my saddle! 🙂

  • Reply
    Stacey
    June 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    I'm in that odd spot of having young toddlers. I wonder what it'll be like when they are gone and it already makes me sad… but I also think about the possibility of crafting time or date nights, etc. The dreams of someone who doesn't sleep yet.

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 8, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Those are tough days for sure! Being unable to gain a full night's sleep is hard on a mama. Hang in there! It won't last forever. Once they're school age the years just fly. But it is nice to have creative time and date nights, not gonna lie. 😉

  • Reply
    Kamea Hope
    June 9, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Oh, how I am just beginning to understand. My firstborn left for college last fall and it broke my heart. I missed her terribly, and our family just seemed so incomplete doing the everyday things without her. She's home for the summer, and I'm loving it! In your post, I saw that this doesn't get easier. I'm in for a ride. I have six more kids to launch into the world. Better stock up on the Kleenex.
    Blessings and hugs,
    Kamea

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 9, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Kamea, so good to hear from you! Ahhh – I feel your pain! When that first one leaves, the family dynamic changes so incredibly much. Soak up the summer and snatch up those precious moments as much as you can!
    I'm doing much better now. It takes me a while, but knowing she is happy and loving her ministry helps.
    Have a good one!

  • Reply
    Lauren English
    June 9, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    This is beautiful…I'm on the daughter end of this scenario. My parents still live in California and I'm in Missouri, and I miss her a whole lot. I know she's happy that I have my husband and his family here in Missouri but I sure do wish there was a way to combine our two worlds and live in the same town! Thanks for your honesty!

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 9, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Ah – California is a long way away from Missouri! I know you are missing your mom and she is missing you, even though she is happy for you! Give it time and lots of prayer – I've been a young wife far from home too and all I prayed about was moving back. In retrospect, I wish I would have worked harder at being content! Maybe you're doing a better job than I did though – I hope so! Thanks so much for visiting and looking around!

  • Reply
    Beth
    June 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    I'm in the same stage of life, Ruthie. I remember when my oldest son (now 25 and about to get married on the 20th) was going off to college. I really had a hard time letting go and the grief just came in waves. But then I started to enjoy the freedom and possibilities that came with this new stage. Now I'm still waffling between grief and joy, but mostly joy. And every mother's journey and feelings are different. You probably have a hard time with any kind of change and I am like that to a degree, but sometimes crave change ironically! Give yourself the grace to take this journey as slow as you need to, my friend! It only shows how deeply you love those littlin's turned young adults! Thanks for your kind words back at my place as well. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 10, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Yes, I do have trouble with change, especially the change in the mommy role. It has been one way for so many years, but I will roll with it. I'm much better this year than I was last year, and have found new things to become involved with so you are right, that helps. Someone else told me the same thing about giving myself as long as I needed to, there's a lot of grace in that statement. So nice to meet you today, and thanks for coming over to visit!

  • Reply
    Meg Gemelli
    June 11, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Good Lord, you've got me tearing up and my kids are only six and four! I'm going to be a big ball of mess. I see that now. Thanks for giving words to the experience so that those of us coming up behind you won't be blindsided;) Neither death nor life and all the rest…Amen!!

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 11, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Ah, Meg, I've been where you are! And I thought they would never grow up! Boy, was I wrong. This post has resonated with a lot of younger moms, interestingly enough. To encourage younger moms to soak it up and push the laundry aside at times – that is my mission. Thank you for your support! Good to see you!

  • Reply
    Jen
    June 12, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Oh boy, how I dread those days. Our oldest turned 15 this year and our youngest two graduated from kindergarten. I already feel like life is going a bit more quickly than it used to! It was hard enough to send the oldest to high school, so I can't even imagine sending him off into the world. Go ahead and grieve, Mama, because I know I'll be in that same boat in just a few short years! I'm sure so many can relate to your transparency here, too. Thank you for sharing – I'm visiting you from Tell His Story. 🙂
    Jen @ Being Confident of This

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 12, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Hi Jen, you must have twins! Yes, once they hit school life seems to go on fast forward. I hope you are enjoying that 15 year old boy, because you are right – it won't be long! My son is now 24 and I'm struggling to remember what he looked like at 15. Boo hoo hoo!!! Lol, thanks for your visit and comment!

  • Reply
    Abby McDonald
    June 12, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Oh Ruthie, I can certainly empathize with you! My kids are still very young so although I don't know what you're going through, every time I'm away from them I miss them terribly. It sounds like you've raised some wonderful, God-following children, though, and that is amazing. May God comfort you as you adjust to this new chapter.

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 12, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you, Abby! And yes – if you miss them now, just wait! Lol soak up those babies as much as you can. And yes, they love the Lord and I am so humbled by that fact. I know that could change as they get out in the world more frequently and I pray they stay strong! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Jenny @ Unremarkable Files
    June 18, 2015 at 7:10 am

    I love that you love your kids. And I love your story about talking with your non-existent son in the van. I'm sure that I've done something similar – but have just forgotten all about it.

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 18, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Thanks, Jenny. I do love my kids. And I want to encourage other moms to love theirs, enjoy all the humorous moments, and be present in each day, with faith in God as the anchor. Thanks again for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Kaylene Yoder
    June 18, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Ok, so I might have cried a little with you while reading this, and my kids are only halfway to leaving the nest! This encourages me even further to enjoy each day with them & be more intentional. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 18, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Kaylene – thank you for empathizing! It's tough for sure! But oh, the memories. We have so many. And YES – that is part of the mission of this blog – intentional and joyful parenting! Thanks for your sweet comment. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristin Taylor
    June 18, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    My daughter, Cate, went through a Finding Nemo phase too, so that part made me smile. I read the other day about a mom who was working herself out of a job because her soon-to-be-teenager was taking on some new responsibilities. I know that's how it's supposed to be, and hooray that your kids have skills and passions they're sharing with the world, but I know it's bound to be hard. I'll snuggle my little ones a little closer tonight thinking about it. 🙂 Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 18, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    Ah Kristin – that is part of the mission here at Live Laugh Love – to encourage you to savor the moments right now with your children.
    Oh – and I figured out how this post qualifies for Three Word Wednesday – this post is about my THREE kids who left home! 🙂

  • Reply
    Tammy Belau
    June 19, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Ruthie,
    oh thank you for the visit, and thank you for sharing with me that future grief. 😉 I recall my mom hiding in the basement of my dorm with her sunglasses on, watching the news channel. I didn't understand why she was sad when I was so happy and excited (and only 100 miles away) to be at college.
    I perhaps am glimpsing a bit of it. My oldest only has ten years left at school. They're all actually fun now. They're starting to help. And those seeds of faith are sprouting. That is the most encouraging.
    I try to cling to memories by taking lots of photos and videos, but God is slowly teaching me that I cannot keep those moments. That if I experience them with the kids, I can keep some memories, but that I risk being Lot's wife if I only hold to the past instead of enjoying the present.
    You encourage me!
    Love,
    Tammy (tammysincerity)

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    June 19, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Such wisdom you have shared right on your comment here, Tammy! You are figuring it out and God will lead you a step at a time. I'm thinking we miss a lot these days having our iPhones handy when we need to just calm down and store up memories. I'm trying to do this with Sawyer now. We can encourage each other! 🙂

  • Reply
    IFEOMA SAMUEL
    August 12, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Some how my dear friend I landed on this post. I could sense your feelings in this article. I wish I could hug you right about now.

    Thank you my dear Ruthie for such an encouraging friend. I appreciate the time you took stopping over on my blog earlier.
    Many Blessings to you friend

  • Reply
    Ruthie Gray
    August 12, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Hey girlie! It's always good to hear from you! I took some time to watch your video on your blog as well, you were interviewing someone. I love your accent.
    I appreciate your ministry of encouragement and have enjoyed interacting with you!
    Blessings to you this day, my friend!

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