It is a glorious morning. The sun is bright, the air is cool, the birds are flitting back and forth from the holly to the crape myrtle to the feeder. I got up early and spent time reading my Bible and then started re-reading Knowing God by J.I Packer, which I had read eons ago. The boys are up and working on their school work and the smell of whole grain bread toasting is wafting in here to my desk.
It is the last full day of break for Jonathan. He heads back to Gordon tomorrow morning for his final semester in college and I am a bit sad. Before he got home, I had thought about the fact that he may never be at home for this long of a stretch again. He graduates in May and then will probably go abroad for a year or so. After that, graduate school, more work abroad, marriage??? The Lord knows his path. I do not. But, it may well be that he will never spend four weeks of vacation at home again. He realized this fact about ten days ago and came and told me and gave me a big hug. I had a tears pooling in my eyes.
Mostly though, I am profoundly thankful for the last four weeks. We have laughed and cried and talked late at night. I have taken him to the oral surgeon to have his wisdom teeth extracted, the dermatologist to have a cyst removed from his forehead, and today to the eye doctor to see if he needs glasses. (He goes off our insurance in May so this has been the break to take care of medical issues!) He has enjoyed our family friends and they have gotten to know him better. He has played ping-pong with his brothers and put his music on my computer. I am honored when he says, "Oh, Mommy, you'll like this one." He's had his turn on the dish-washing rotation and taken out the trash. He's been a son and brother at home. We have loved it.
He, of course, continues to be a son and brother at school...but it's different. We don't get to hear his quick witted comments or insightful observations during our morning reading. Joel won't get tackled, tickled, or wrestled to the floor. Matthew will not have anyone to play guitar with. Andrew will not hear the constant song of "come to Gordon, come to Gordon," when he thinks about his college decision. Coty will miss conversations about politics and international affairs. I will miss terribly the frequent hugs. We will all miss the good natured teasing to which we are subjected when J is home.
Jonathan and I talked the other day about why I scold and fuss, why I am critical at times and why I worry. (Not that those are good things, mind you. They are just what I sometimes do) As a mother, I want the very, very best for my children. First I want them to love and follow God. Then I want their lives to be purposeful, meaningful, happy, and as pain-free as possible. I want them to do well and to avoid the pitfalls I fell into. I want them to be wise and discerning; to live happily ever after. When I'm not thinking very clearly, I act as though my scolding, criticism, and worry will accomplish those goals. I forget, in my protective mother-love, that it doesn't really work that way.
I forget that it is by falling in and climbing out of pitfalls that we learn to walk in a more discerning way. It is by enduring trials that we learn perseverance. It is pain that presses us into God and makes us wiser. Hard things are necessary for growth and strength. And no fussing or worrying on my part will change that. When I am thinking clearly, I know that my children will go through plenty of their own struggles, their share of pain, and their own hard trials. I can advise and counsel, encourage and listen. But more important than anything else, I can pray. And I can love and keep a home for my children always to come back to - for a few days or longer.
Tomorrow I will not be tripping over guitar cases. Joel will get his bedroom back. We will not glance over at the sofa and see Jonathan reading. He'll be back at school in the weeks ahead, writing a senior honors thesis, finishing his final classes, enjoying his last semester living with the three others of the Fantastic Four - the guys he got to know freshman year, who decided way back then to live together senior year. He'll be mailing off internship applications and probably raising support for a summer missions trip to India. Oh boy, I'm going to miss him. But it has been a great four weeks and I am a very thankful mother.