I Thought I Had More Time

I thought I had more time.

When you were a baby the years stretched out on a seemingly endless horizon. The notion that you would one day turn 18 and leave home for college seemed a lifetime away. All I could see right then was the precious baby with her big blue eyes and that adorable smile lighting up her face.

I figured I had years and years. I should have known better.

And then you became a toddler, and later a preschooler, and you wanted to do things for yourself that I had always done for you. I was proud of your independence but I started to think about the time coming all too soon when you would begin elementary school.

I thought I still had lots of time left with you.

You were only 5 and in kindergarten. You had trouble getting used to the idea of being at school all day, and I had trouble getting used to you being away from me. But I had your baby sister at home and she was a real handful, keeping me busy most of the time, so I didn’t really notice how fast the time was passing. I volunteered at the school so I could still see you during the day sometimes. Besides, we still had years and years together.

I really thought we’d have more time.

And then you got further on in elementary school and you started wanting to spend time with your friends, so we set up playdates and hosted sleepovers and watched you blossom. Your personality emerged more and more, and it was a delight to note all the ways we were alike and different. You definitely got your singing voice from me, but your eyes from your Dad. You loved it when I came to eat lunch with you at school.

Time flew on but I knew we still had almost a decade before you graduated high school. Lots of time left.

Intermediate school came and you surprised yourself by winning the school spelling bee. After a while you found your way socially and expanded your group of friends. More playdates (except they were called “hanging out” now) and sleepovers went on, and sometimes we even took friends with us on summer vacations. I loved watching you with your friends and seeing you interact. I started missing you a little, and the way I used to have you all to myself.

There was still more than five years until graduation but I could feel the loss of you already beginning.

Then came middle school, and a big move to another state. Lots of adjustments were happening and some came easily while others came at a cost. Too often it was you who suffered the most. Throughout it all you were doing your best to be a good sport and live up to our expectations. It was painful to watch you struggle to find friends in our new home, but your father and I cheered you on as you reached out and made connections, even though we knew sometimes you would rather curl up in your room with anime videos than risk rejection.

I realized that the thought of you packing your things in a few short years to move into a dorm room was enough to take my breath away. Where did the time go?

Then over the summer there was a boy who wanted to be more than a friend to you. He hung out at our house a few times and it dawned on me that one day you would meet a young man who would deserve your love (he will have to be a rare specimen indeed) and you would link arms with him and make a home of your own. I wondered how well we as parents had prepared you for such a thing.

I think my Mama heart stopped for a few seconds when I thought about you getting married one day.

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This year you started high school and it was tough. Good grades require more and more of your time and effort. You have more friends and you’ve developed new interests and ways of thinking that both surprise and delight me. What a marvelous person you’re turning out to be! You are caring, thoughtful, and incredibly creative, not to mention talented and beautiful. You don’t waste time worrying about others’ opinions of you – you follow your own path. Your father and I are so incredibly proud of you!

But along with the maturity comes the natural desire to forge your own identity and this sometimes causes you to want to spend time alone, and that’s okay. Because sometimes when you emerge from your cocoon you want hugs and back rubs and to sit close to us on the couch. In those times I see glimpses of that baby girl you used to be, and she doesn’t seem so far off.

I truly thought I would have more time. And I wonder: did I savor your childhood, or did I rush through it while anticipating the next stage? Did I overlook the joy of the day in my curiosity about what tomorrow might bring?

Did I wish your younger years away in my eagerness to see you grow up? And furthermore, have your Dad and I done a good job of preparing you to grow up? We thought we’d have so much more time for that.

It is so ironic that when children are younger they are desperate for their parents’ attention and the parents aren’t always willing to give it. And yet when they get older and they no longer seem to need that constant attention, the parents miss giving it.

We will follow your lead and let you grow up at your own pace, even though there are days when we wish we could slow down the passage of time, because every day brings us closer to the day that you will one day leave home to make a life of your own. Which is as it should be.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to take. Meanwhile maybe you can be patient with your parents for wanting to be around you so much. We’re just trying to prepare ourselves for the day when you’re not here all the time.

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I Miss My Best Friend

Friendship is tricky. I’m sure I’ve written about that before, how making friends is like dating without the romantic part. You meet, you decide if you have chemistry, you go on some “dates” to test things out. It’s hard, and unlike the romantic kind of dating, people don’t always make time in their lives for new friendships.

Life is busy and hectic, the kids have their own schedules, and sometimes you just cannot make space for one. more. thing. I get it. Once upon a time, that was me. My life was full and if I met someone new I had to evaluate whether or not I could (or wanted to) fit that person into my circle of friends. I’m sure I missed out on some beautiful friendships because I couldn’t or wouldn’t make time for them.

But I’d like to whine for just a few minutes here, if you don’t mind.

I miss having a best friend.

I’ve only been in this state for 18 months, and in this particular neighborhood for six months, so I realize that I’m still quite new.  And I have made some friends, so I’m not totally lonely and friendless, and some of those friends are very dear to me. Today I’m just missing a particular deep kind of woman-friendship.

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I miss the kind of friend who is (nearly) always willing to meet up for coffee or aimless window shopping.

I miss the friend who will sit at my kitchen table and chat with me while I run around the room in my pajamas trying to set it to rights.

I miss shopping with a friend who was brave and honest enough to tell you if those pants made my butt look wide or that top looked like something my Grandma would wear. And I knew she loved me so I trusted her to tell me the truth.

I miss the friend who came and comforted me while I was having a medical problem, and then stayed with my children until after midnight while I was at the hospital getting treatment.

I miss the one who sang beside me on the stage and in the car, and anywhere else we were together.

I miss the friend who was my pregnancy buddy, who had her first baby just before I had mine so we could raise them together as we stumbled our way through motherhood, reassuring each other that we were doing a great job.

I miss the inside jokes that made me feel like I belonged.

I miss the friend who took me to yard sales as we hunted for hidden treasures in other people’s junk.

I miss the one who didn’t care that I wasn’t a “hugger” and hugged me anyway, showing me that it’s nothing to be afraid of and is actually quite nice once you get used to it.

I miss the friend who walked with me through the horrors of infertility and loss and didn’t shy away from the pain but held my hand and prayed with me.

I miss the one who would bring her family with ours on vacation.

I miss the friend who was there when neither of us had husbands any more, who reminded me that although we felt broken it wouldn’t always be that way. (And she was right)

I miss the one who came to sit with me in the wee hours of the morning at the hospital when my daughter had to be rushed into emergency surgery late at night.

I miss the friend who always had my back, who took my side when I needed her to, who was brave enough to tell me when I was wrong, who was for me and wanted the best for me.

I’ve had the joy of loving many best friends over my life, and all of them had a hand in shaping me into the person I am today. I still enjoy many of those friendships even though we are now separated by distance. Social media and the telephone help a lot, but seeing each other once or twice a year just isn’t enough for me. I’d like to find some sister-friends in my zip code too.

And maybe I’m being unrealistic in this day and age. Once upon a time, before cell phones and perpetual internet connectedness, people had to connect in other ways, like knocking on a friend’s door and sharing a cup of tea.

I have lots of Facebook contacts. Some date all the way back to my childhood, and I love being able to keep up with people who knew me before I had all my adult teeth. But I fear that the casual nature of online friendships doesn’t always translate well into face-to-face relationships. It’s easy to make a comment or post whenever you have a minute, and that keeps the conversation flowing, sort of. That’s not the same as looking into someone’s eyes, hearing the tone of their voice, and observing body language. I want more of that. I crave the kind of intimacy I’ve had with friends who know my faults and accept me anyway. Maybe that makes me old-fashioned.

Friendship, like love, is nurtured by shared experiences. And it takes time. It also takes intention. You can’t sit around and just wait for it to happen. You have to find someone else who is interested in developing the relationship and both of you have to make room for it in your lives. It’s hard. There’s no blinking red light or gauge on people’s foreheads to tell you who is going to eventually make a good friend so there are going to be some false starts. And let me tell you, it takes a mighty big dose of courage to make the first move because rejection stings.

To paraphrase the great philosopher Phil Collins, “You can’t hurry friendship; oh, you’ll just have to wait. They say friends don’t come easy – it’s a game of give and take.” You’ve got to trust and give it time, no matter how long it takes.

I know my next bestie is out there and I’m not giving up. Relationships are too important, and I’m convinced God created us for relationship – first with Him, and then with each other. And I’m also convinced that He didn’t intend for us to settle for surface-y, Facebook post-y relationships to fulfill our desire to connect, so I’m not settling either. I have a feeling I’m not the only one who feels this way. Maybe, just maybe, there’s another woman out there who is in need of someone to come alongside her and share the journey, face to face and heart to heart.

Hang on, BFF. I’m coming for you.

…In With the New (a OneWord post)

Last year I focused on…well…Focus. I was hoping for a more fun word this year. Adventure, Praise, Joy – those all sounded pretty good. But then I started thinking about what I wish was different in my life and where I’d like to improve personally. When December 31, 2016, rolls around what would I like to see changed?

I wanted a word that meant I would think carefully about what I was doing and also indicated that my life would become simpler and easier to manage in some ways. I felt like I needed to pay attention to what I do, think, and feel. I wanted to reevaluate the state of my life, all the way down to the arrangement of the furniture in my bedroom. I considered Weigh but the other implications of THAT word reminded me of New Year’s resolutions, so no. Intentional crossed my mind, as did Consider and Deliberate. But I finally settled on Mindful. Not Mindfulness, which is a noun, but the adjective form, because I want the word to describe me.

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Mindful means that I won’t allow my time to be sucked away by the black hole of the internet because I’m more conscious of what I’m doing.

Mindful means that when I’m asked to do a job or volunteer, I will carefully consider the cost and will pray about it instead of just blindly jumping in. Sometimes saying “yes” gets me into trouble because I commit to things in order to please others at the expense of my family.

Mindful means that when my children or husband need me or want to talk to me, I will be fully present and not compiling a to-do list or planning dinner (or a blog post) in my mind.

Mindful reminds me to pay attention to my surroundings and my own health so that I can be the best possible version of me.

Mindful says that I will concentrate on what I’m doing at the time and give it my full attention and effort. (This is why I say it’s the cousin of Focus)

And especially this: Mindful indicates that I will be more aware of God’s presence in my life and the world around me. I will learn to look and listen for Him and His voice.

I have spent so much of life just flitting from one thing to the next without paying much attention that it’s time for me to slow down and really SEE. It’s a great quality to be able to look past distraction into the truth of a thing, but I have reached a point where the distractions are mounting up and blocking my view. Mindful says that I will be thoughtful and deliberate in removing the distractions from my life so that I can focus on living for Him.

I’ve even chosen a verse: 2 Timothy 1:7 says this, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. The verse right before is this: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands,” which is a reminder to me to use the talents God has given me without fear. My verse tells me that a sound mind is a gift of God, just like His power and love that He imparts to us. And if He’s given me a sound mind I ought to use it to His glory.

This should be interesting. Let’s get started.

If you have a word for 2016, what is it? How did you choose that word?