Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Letting Go

My daughter suddenly grew up.  It was the driver's license that changed everything.  In a matter of days she had her license, a full-time job, and a car.  And she drove off into the future.

Arielle has always been determined, focused and self-assured.  Once driving became her goal, she worked hard to achieve it.  She drove beside me for almost a full year, back and forth to co-op--a 40 minute drive each way--and every other place we went.  We talked endlessly of different traffic situations.  She endured my exclamations (sometimes shouted):  "Slow down!  Watch out!  Stop!"  She learned.  She earned her license.  

Arielle knew the job at the book warehouse was a summer possibility--good pay, flexible days, and full-time hours.  (Forty hours a week is hard to come by for a teenager.)  The warehouse is also far from home.  But one afternoon she applied for the job on-line.  Someone called her the next day and she quickly had an interview and was hired.  She has already worked a week.  I thought maybe it would be overwhelming for her--the drive, the long days. But no, she likes it!  Arielle has always thrived on busy-ness and people.  

I didn't know it but Fred was waiting for a reason to buy his dream car--this time a jeep.  So when Arielle got the job and would be needing a car, he got his jeep.  His old Honda is now Arielle's.  She immediately cleaned it out and made it her own, stockpiling it with all her personal items.  Even before the warehouse job, she started driving to her cleaning job all by herself, another long drive in the opposite direction.  She is filling in for Gretchen working for an elderly couple while Gretchen has some weeks with her newborn.  So for now, Arielle will be working six days a week.  She isn't home. I miss her already.  Letting go is hard for me.

My little Arielle.  This morning I went downstairs with her as she was leaving for work at 7 a.m.  She had her coffee, her lunch and her backpack.  I kissed her good-bye and just for old times' sake I yelled out, "Slow down!"  She laughed and drove off with her newly found freedom.   

I think of Fred long ago lifting Arielle into her car seat in his big truck.  She was only three when he took her to preschool Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  I would wave and pray for her safe return.  She was my baby, going off into the world.  It was hard to let her go.  At three she was so bold and confident, off on an adventure, never looking back.  So I pray now, as then, that God's favor would be her shield as he guides her into the future, unknown to me, but fully known to him.  I'm grateful for the privilege of being the mother of this amazing girl. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mother's Day Weekend

Could life get any better than this?  "The Lord has dealt bountifully with me."  I read that the day after Mother's Day.  God is good!

 The day before Mother's Day we planned a triple baby shower for my three daughters-in-law--Gretchen, Chrissy and Stacia.  Gretchen's baby was due the end of May and the other two babies are coming in July.  A big day was planned with gifts, food, and outdoor spaces for the little ones to run around.  The weather was sunny and warm, no rain to spoil this day.  Then I got a call from Damien a few hours before guests were to arrive.  Damien was taking Gretchen to the hospital!  He thought maybe it was just false labor.  But no!  About two hours later I got a text--  "It's a girl!"  What joy at the shower as we celebrated the arrival of Teagan Grace!

Mental snapshots from the shower to reflect on so I never forget this day:  Sidewalk chalk and all the children drawing and laughing.  Bubbles galore and small balls tossed around.  Arielle was so thoughtful to pick up fun things at the dollar store.  A little shoving and biting among small cousins.  Liana and her camera capturing it all.  Pregnant moms on the deck opening gifts.  Julie and her daughter--odd how we became friends--fitting in with everyone.  Julie and I had a good conversation as moms of older girls.  My friend Cindy comfortable talking with everyone.  Tiny Eva in her soft voice telling us the names of all the animals in Arielle's Webkinz collection.  Her vocabulary is amazing!  Lana playing the big sister role to all the children.  Caden scaling the stone wall to run away.  Joey trying to follow but not quite making it.  Jordan confused and upset at times.  Why weren't her parents here?  She would come in the house occasionally to throw herself in my lap in tears.  Poor child, her life will never be the same once she goes home to a new sister.  More dessert after dessert when most everyone went home and Cindy and I rehashed the day.  Late night clean-up.  It was worth the mess!  Family and friends celebrating life together.

Dominic and family came from D.C. and I had hoped to spend time with them but we never seemed to get a chance to talk in the crowd of guests at the shower.  I still have trouble balancing serving and relaxing to enjoy people.  We planned a day at the park with the little ones on Mother's Day.  Once we arrived though, someone said we were all going to Damien and Gretchen's house to meet their baby girl.  Jordan greeted us at the door, taking Liana's hand to show off HER baby.  There Teagan was in her cradle, sleeping peacefully.  We took turns holding her, this tiny person so new and perfect and precious.

We left for lunch at Red Robin and our crowd filled an extra room.  Dominic sat beside me and we finally had a chance to catch up.  I was at one end of our long table, Jon at the other.  I looked down that table at all my dear family members and felt such gratitude.  Moms were busy feeding toddlers, my number three grandchild Lana helping out by chasing them down when one would run off.  My sons, such good men, caring for their families.  Our blended family is one, Anthony and Kim among us with Fred enjoying little Joey.  My daughters beautiful beside me.  They are growing up so quickly.  My heart is full.  

Liana made me a pretty card with a sweet message that I will treasure forever.  The girls also gave me a shirt in my favorite color.  AND I got a new granddaughter for Mother's Day!  Family--it's the best gift.  We have times when we are at odds with each other, but in the end, we are strong and together.  It is reassuring to know my kids will always have each other when I am long gone.

 After hugs and good-byes,  Steven called Arielle.  His mom wasn't home and could he spend Mother's Day with us?  Why not? I often tell him he is like my fifth son.  He was worried because his dress shirt didn't fit anymore and he didn't think it was right to wear a T-shirt on Mother's Day.  In our family?  Casual and comfortable reign with us.  We got Steven and decided on a hike and geocaching in Mill Grove on this beautiful day.  Back at home, Arielle and Steven suddenly dashed out the door.  I had no idea where they are going.  (Although they had cleared it with Fred.)  They returned with two lovely bouquets of flowers, one for me and one for Steven's mom.  As the sun was setting on this perfect Mother's Day, I took this picture out on the deck. 

Thank you, everyone.  I am truly undeserving of all these blessings.

"You make known to me the path of life.  In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more."  Psalm 16:11.