There is nothing more fleeting than summer except childhood.
Like lazy, hazy days in the sun that seem to stretch endlessly yet slip away in the blink of an eye, our babies grow up in a heartbeat.
And our hearts skip a beat and we teach them to skip rope and we spread Skippy on bread and Cheerios are everywhere and we keep snapping photos.
Trying to capture moments like butterflies that flit in the golden rays of late afternoon sunshine. Illusive and soon out of sight.
It is later than we know and all our snapping is futile for time keeps running away with the dish and the spoon, and little voices plead, “read it again” so we keep turning the pages of Goodnight, Moon.
Yet all the thousands of moments — those rosy and challenging years of nursery rhymes and bedtime prayers, soccer games and visits from the tooth fairy, silly songs and the perils of potty training, helping with homework and the next day teaching them to drive — they slip away, each and every one of them. Falling though our fingers like so much sand at the shore.
And I am missing them today! Those three baby boys of mine who grew overnight into men and moved far away, oldest one married.
Always as close as my next heartbeat, I’ll Love You Forever, my sons.
Summer makes me a wee bit wistful. My favorite season, it was always my favorite time with my sons. School was out and we were all home, even me, a single mom who taught preschool during the year.
We started off the shortest season by making a long list of all the fun stuff we wanted to do and hung it on the kitchen wall. We swam almost every day and before July was over they were as brown as baked beans. And all they ever wanted for dinner was pasta followed by watermelon and who could spit the seeds the farthest!
Full from morning till night and oh-so-exhausting, those days were a delight. A gift from God! Treasured.
But now the tire swing is still and the Eagle’s Nest and splash pool are long gone.
The red wagon has rusted.
A purple dinosaur named Aminal is long retired from his job of helping a boy drift off to slumber land.
And wasn’t it only yesterday when I called them in for lunch and wiped their grimy little faces before settling them down to eat?
And wasn’t it only last night at bedtime that I read Where the Wild Things Are for the hundredth time? Boy number 2’s favorite, I could recite it in my sleep!
And wasn’t it only last week that we picked sweet peas and juicy berries in the strawberry patch on Robinson Lane and later visited with Christopher Robin and Pooh in the Hundred Acre Woods?
I hugged my babies to my heart, trying to hold onto every gossamer moment, and savored summer until the days started to grow shorter and the evening air a bit cooler and it was time to let go. We only hold our children’s small hands in ours for a few days, don’t we? And then we let them go, too, but our hearts, they keep holding.
And the nest fashioned with downy feathers plucked from my breast is barren, and that pricks my heart sometimes, spilling drops of love and longing and memories swirling, and my eyes grow misty.
As young mamas with our babies in our arms did we realize how fast it all would go?
Back in those days of never ending messes and sleepless nights, that every time we let them go, sending them off in tiny increments of increasing independence, that one day would arrive without warning when they would pack their bags and begin their own lives?
Those days of little hands and little hearts passed in an instant. Hands dirty from play one day; hearts getting hurt and dirtied from life the next. Now So big! and all grown and gone, making their way in the world.
And there will never be enough snapshots to bring it all back. All we can do is keep letting go, with gratitude to God for the joy of being a mom.
So help them, Abba, please.
Be there for them in the wee hours when they cry to You and don’t know what to do. Shelter them under the shadow of Your wings when they are scared. Let them know that You love them like crazy, that You are always for them, that You will never leave them, that they are each unique creations of love made for a purpose.
May their hearts open wide to receive more of You, source of life and love.
And may our hearts in this transitional, later stage of motherhood open wide to receive more of You, our Daddy God who loves all His kids so much that He let go of His only son, all the way to Calvary.
But we’ll never forget those times of tucking in little ones and our hearts want to reach back for one more touch of sweet, soft baby skin and teeny little toes. And our babies will always be our babies no matter how old they are or how far away they live or even if they have babies of their own.
Having borne the fruit of our wombs, we’ll peer over our shoulders and in the hush of a summer’s night fire flies will flicker and we’ll see our little ones playing out back. Zig-zagging across the yard, hands cupping, intent on capturing tiny flashes before they fly away.
Now you see it, now you don’t.
Just like we tried to capture all the fleeting moments of summer and little ones growing. Hoping to put all that’s precious in a secret bottle where time stands still.
But those little feet kept running ever away into their own lives. And in the near dark of not so long ago, little fingers seal blinking points of light in a jar.
And we wish to keep it forever…
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