I knew he did not want to face his mother falling apart that early September morning (or any day, really). But there I was in the kitchen, in my oh-so-attractive green robe, sporting wild bedhead, willing the tears to stop. I watched as my beloved third son pushed back his chair from the table and carried his cereal bowl to the sink.
Senior Year was already picking up steam. I learned with sons one and two how this final year of high school feels like it’s only two weeks long. During this kitchen-moment, as I observed my boy move through ordinary actions, I was struck anew with pointed awareness that this season of my life with Josiah would soon be finished. Emotions rushed to the surface as I pondered how unready I was to say good-bye to the everyday-ness of mothering this young man.
“Please let me mother you a little longer!”
No, I did not say these words aloud because, you know, psycho momma in the morning and all. Yet, this desire to hold onto him, to care for him, lives in me daily.
In reality, not much “mommying” happens the last year of high school. Senior Year Mom is a secretary, a cook, a cheerleader, and a money dispenser, who cries a lot.
Senior Year Mom takes morbid delight when her kid gets sick or needs her to take him to the dentist or doctor. She relishes the time spent together doing anything because he is gone so darn much and is terribly independent. She delights in his presence and hangs on his every word. Even when he rolls his eyes or gets irritated with her when he loses his own car keys, Senior Year Mom doesn’t mind. As much.
I savor the small moments: hearing him laugh with his little brother, listening to him playing the piano as I cook dinner, and watching him greet the dog as he steps through the door.
If I could measure the hours spent in prayer for this son and his three brothers, it might equal months. If I could hold the tears that fell while on my knees, they might fill a small pond.
I prayed for my sons to be men of character. That they would have hearts for the broken. That God would shape them and refine them. But I did not want them to undergo refinement by fire. My plan was not to fill a pond with my tears. I wanted safe, happy, wholesome lives for my precious ones. Yes, I knew some trials must happen, and I conceded to the Lord there. But God, no biggies, please.
God did not obey.
Josiah’s high school experience was a sandwich. Years one and four, saturated with lots of happy and bright. Years two and three were marked, in part, with loss, trauma, humiliation, and injustice.
And out of the searing heat, an overcomer emerged. Josiah is a young man who embraces the flames. He soaks the trials with a growth mindset. He looks for purpose in his pain with the intention that God will use it to serve and encourage others one day.
An easy path was not God’s plan for Josiah, for our family. I believe that this journey through fire adds another layer to my heavy heart. To my need to hold him just a little longer. We two endured so much hard together: the nights I held him as we wept, the vulnerable conversations, the mother-son disconnects, and the difficult decisions. Then, the sweet moments of grace.
Now here we are, graduation is comin’ for us. The end of his life under this roof is the beginning for him. College looms. Life as a man awaits.
So, for these remaining days, I will relish the big moments and everyday-ness as the tear-pond fills higher. I will put on my big girl pants (or ratty green robe) and mother my Jojo just a little longer while holding him loosely.
Then, I will stand proud as I watch my overcomer fly.
“Nonsense. Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older, and then before you know it, they’re grown.”
― J.M. Barrie