Bitter-sweet

When my middle child was 8, he enthusiastically stated “I can’t wait for 2015!!”
Surprised and caught off guard I asked him “What is so special about 2015?”
“I get to DRIVE!!” he said with glee.

Here it is 2015.

My best word to describe this year is bitter-sweet.

Bitter- sweet.

It captures parenting and, well, all of life rather well I think.

My sweet boy was right, he will be behind the wheel of a car this year.  Crazy!!

Sweet, he is going to be learning a new skill & growing in independence. I love who he is and who he is becoming.  He is really something.

Bitter, we have a few short years to enjoy him in our home. And he is fun!!

18 years ago, on New Years day, I was on bed rest. We were eagerly anticipating the birth of our first child. She wasn’t due for another 2 weeks but I was toxic and clearly my symptoms were increasing. My nose was even retaining water! And that my friends, is why there will be no pregnancy pictures posted here. With my bulbous, red shiny nose, I looked like a drunk pregnant single mother to be. Yes, I definitely could not wear my wedding ring. And there was no helping the nose!!

Back then, Ultra Sounds were not standard. We had seen no image of our baby, we had only heard the heart beat. How I loved the sound of that heart beat.  This little one was active, but gentle & had hiccups daily.

I remember feeling very unprepared for parenthood.  Soon after finding out we were expecting, I remember telling God that it had been a long time since I had looked after a baby.  Babies were scary enough, if he could just let it be a girl, I would be okay.  You see I had grown up with a sister. Having being married to my husband for 5 years, I was pretty sure I wasn’t prepared to parent a boy. I was really hoping to start on ground that was a little familiar. I thought I could handle starting with a girl.

She arrived 10 days early.  6 pounds 10 ounces.  A girl. Thank you Lord, a girl.  She came fast and furiously. One and a half hours from start to finish.  She didn’t cry right away.  When we got to hold her, she seemed so fragile.  She gazed at her new surroundings with enormous eye’s.

She let us know quickly what she didn’t like. She was spirited right from the get go. She hated being swaddled.  Her little face would crumple, turn bright red and she would wail. With me being so tall and she being so small, she had a lot of wiggle room in my womb. She liked freedom.  All of a sudden the movement I felt carrying her made sense.  She liked to put her hands behind her head, elbows out, and she would pull her little feet up to her bottom and let her knees fall apart.  My stomach would pop at four corners and there was my answer as to how it could do that. She liked to be sung to. She enjoyed being rocked. She didn’t like slow sad songs. She liked to be upright so she could see and she liked being gently patted on the back. We were head over heals in love with her.

I am at risk of making her sound perfect as I write this. She is!!! Well okay,  she is not.  But, she is dearly loved. She has always has been a treasure.  I knew quickly as sweet as she was that I had my hands full. She was very inquisitive, busy and determined.  I was completely stopped short when as a 6 months old I was trying to keep her from danger. I scooped her up and she proceeded to look me in the eye and holler in frustration. She looked me straight in the eye and screamed right at me. I couldn’t believe it!  She was so angry I wouldn’t let her do what she wanted to. I remember staring back at her shocked and speechless. I was so startled. All I could think to do was take her to her crib. As I left the room, she bellered her protest and I quickly phoned my Mom. We have had many moments like this one through the years, less hollering, but still firm expressions of disagreement.

It has been fun watching this little one grow.  When learning to walk, she fell down a hill at a park. She trucked back up to the top and ran down until she could do it with out falling. I observed with fascination. At 2, she saw a 5 year old working hard to colour in the lines.  My little girl sat at her kindergarten table for 10 days straight. Every waking moment spent colouring furiously until she mastered staying in the lines. Well, she did break to do laps around the house to blow off steam. If it was important to her, she would work at it until she accomplished it.

She loved books and language.  This little one would not say the word “Grandma” because we were all working so hard to get her to. When we were all distracted and visiting, she decided it was time. She found her platform, the back door step at my parents house. She loudly and proudly announced,  “Grandma”,  all the while enjoying our surprise and delight. She was keen to learn and try new words.  I knew it would be tricky to wear her out so we enrolled in gymnastics early. I knew she would love the activity because she was already using my living room to that end. By five, she was asked to try the competitive program and she rose to the challenge.

As she has grown, we have marvelled at her work ethic. Her interest in academics and sports. She is clever and capable. She has great common sense. Knowing she would be too tall for gymnastics and for a few other reasons, we chose to withdraw her from that sport before injuries occurred.  She was on board. We started introducing her to other sports. She became very passionate about volleyball. We love watching her grow and learn as an athlete.

She is a loyal friend who always assumes the best of others.  She is thoughtful, witty and independent. She is respectful, cooperative and loving. She has an incredible ability to look at different aspects of an idea and value a variety of perspectives. She is strong and knows her mind.  She is determined and relentless. 

I really love who she is and who she is becoming!!

Sweet!!

The bitter part is, as they grow we parents go through a series of lessons on how to let go.  It is bitter when this life bumps and bruises them, when it knocks them down and you have to walk them through it.

It is sweet when they choose well. Choose to overcome the pain. To let God use it for good in their life.

This year she graduates. I am less enthusiastic about 2015 than my wonderful son.  It means some big transitions ahead for our family.

She is leaving for college. A chance to be more independent, pursue volleyball at a higher level. A chance to learn more about herself and embrace what God has for her. A chance to try new things, make mistakes, see how God redeems them.  This part is sweet. So very sweet!!

It is bitter. So very bitter. I often joke that I haven’t made a meal by myself in 5 years. I am not sure I know how to any more. This dear one always pipes up “do you need some help Mom?”

Training the boys to do this is not going to be as simple as that!

It is going to mean we don’t get to enjoy her sweet company everyday. Or watch her play ball.  It means there will be one less person at the dinner table for a few months at a time. One less dear one, to join in the banter, offer witty and smart comments. Once less insightful perspective when we talk about the Bible and other topics.  I don’t get to see her beautiful face, look into her enormous astounding eyes everyday and give her a hug goodnight.

That is bitter.
So very, very bitter.

I can’t wait to see what God has for her. It is going to be a sweet ride. I know for her, there is uncertainty, fear of making mistakes, a feeling of anticipation mixed with a complete and utter feeling of being overwhelmed.  Wouldn’t it be great to be 18 and feel all that angst again?

She doesn’t know what we who have gone through it know. That the journey is the sweet part, with all the ups and downs. That the mistakes are so very valuable and help us learn so much. That God can always redeem them. Even though they leave their mark on us, mistakes help shape us and are an important part of our story. You can’t get through life without a few mistakes. We are human after all. She doesn’t know it is all going to come together and she is going to be OK. She doesn’t know what is going to happen and hasn’t quite embraced that, really, that is part of the fun.

It is going to be sweet.

Oh, so sweet.

So with that, I welcome 2015.

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