The Stuff of Life

Cheesebread, Milk Cartons and Tears

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Homemade cheesebread with marinara sauce.

“Oh no, what if Lewis can’t open his milk carton?”

Those were the first five words on the back-to-school lunch menu and that was the thought that ran through my head sending a fresh waterfall of tears down my face. Yes, I read the school lunch menu and cried. And cried. And cried.

Lewis is my baby. The one I have had to myself for the last four years. The one who sings wonderful made-up songs, regularly makes us all laugh out loud and likes to wear the same waaaay too small orange shirt e.v.e.r.y. day. The one who wasn’t supposed to grow up.

What if he can’t open his milk carton? What if he gets lost in the sea of kids? What if he gets hurt and wants his mommy? What if he gets frustrated and wants to rock to calm himself but can’t because his rocking chair is too big to put in his locker? There was no end to the (often irrational) thoughts that filled my head as I prepared to send my little man off to begin his own life adventures.

But I know deep down the reason I keep crying is not because Lewis might not be able to handle school. It’s because I might not be able handle life without Lewis.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. Not a nurse, not a teacher, not an engineer, not a chef, not an astronaut, but a mom.

And for the past 11 years of my life, being a mom has been my fulltime job. I have done all the things every little girl dreams she will do as a mom.  Feed her babies, rock her babies, bathe her babies, stroll down the street with her babies, read books to her babies and check on her babies every single night just to watch that little chest move ever so slightly up and down.

Now I stand on the edge of a new reality for my life, and I can’t get the picture to focus through the blur of these tear-stained eyes. My heart is breaking because as my children grow, I am needed less. Of course, I want them to grow up. I want them to become independent. I want them to tie their own shoes and zip their own coats and open their own milk cartons. But with each new little thing they accomplish on their own, one more thing gets crossed of my list of responsibilities. As my list shrinks, the fist I have tightly clenched around my dream job description is getting painfully pried open finger by finger.

But I know to love is to hurt. And I know love is worth it. Every tear, every breath that gets caught in my throat, every bit of puffiness under my tired eyes.  Worth it.

To be honest, I’m scared to step into the next chapter. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but hanging out in the white space between chapters in not an option, so here I go. If Lewis can master his milk carton, surely I can convince my fingers to turn the page.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me a light that I might tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the hand of God. That shall be better to you than light and safer than a known way.” Minnie Louise Haskins

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Author: Kim Harms

I am the wife of a guitar-playing, worship-leading, adventure-loving husband. I am the mother of three incredible sons: two of whom recently surpassed me in height, and one of whom I am going to pretend is still my baby. I am saved by grace; a daughter of the King who was and is and is to come. *** I am a regular contributor at Today’s Christian Woman, a monthly blogger at Inspire a Fire and have freelanced for a variety of publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guideposts. *** The 500 Dresses ministry that I started with my mom in 2010 is our way of answering the call to serve those in poverty.

8 thoughts on “Cheesebread, Milk Cartons and Tears

  1. Beautifully put, Kim.

  2. well said. indeed God is in and with us at every stage!!!

  3. I feel your pain. I’ve had several breakdowns this week; the last one about 30 minutes ago when I was making Tess’ bed (which she left unmade–so like Tess…) and found the panda that she has slept with for the last 8 years or so under the sheets. She slept with him every night…and she left him home. It made me so sad. You prepare them to be independent of you and then you’re shocked when they actually are.

  4. Thanks for the comments guys. This change is so much more emotional than I thought it would be. (I teared up when the Walmart checker asked me how I was doing today. I almost couldn’t respond.) Tori, I’ll be calling you in someday down the road when my kids think they need to head off to college or something crazy like that 🙂

  5. And that is also how you will feel when they leave and go to college. When they go off to college questions roll through your head, will they eat healthy, will they get good rest, will they get involved with a church and a “youth group”, will they find christian friends, etc. My baby starts college in 3 days and he is living at home so he’s not totally gone, but he is never home. He doesn’t need mom anymore. I have LOVED being a stay-at-home mom and they still need you even if they don’t act like it. To look out into the audience for a chorus concert and see you, that means a lot to them. Or they look in the stands when they make a mistake on the athletic field or want to lean on you when they are done running their cross country race and they are all sweaty but thankful you are there to get them a gatorade or bring treats. I have not worked for 24 years outside of the home and it’s scary to think about even going out and getting a job. I feel like the work sector has changed so much, I don’t know that I could do a job, let alone get hired at 49 years old with not a lot of experience. I really don’t want to go find a job, not yet anyway. I do question God, okay now what? It’s a whole new season, but He is always faithful to be right here beside us, guiding us, teaching us and using us. Life is a life of seasons and an exciting adventure waiting to see where He will lead.

  6. Yep, I get it. Hang in there, Kim. I’m praying for you (and for me, too). Love ya

  7. Thanks Summer and Kim. Being a mom is just hard sometimes isn’t it?

  8. You made me cry! Giselle will be starting preschool in September. I’m trying to figure out what next? Ashly is starting college and moving in on Saturday. She is my step-daughter but I will be praying she will have a good experience. I will be lost when Giselle goes to school. It’s an exciting chapter! So many things you can do!

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