Monday, July 8, 2013

And we're back....

As I sit here on campus on this beautiful, not rainy Monday morning I would be remiss if I wasn’t given to a posture of thankfulness & gratitude.  It’s the first week of freshmen orientation and there’s an excitement to this place that only a couple hundred rounds of “Let’s Go Hokies” at 8am in the morning can bring.  Nervous freshmen wander around with nametags around their necks announcing their past, present, and future.  Proud parents follow behind them, taking it all in, with a look in their eyes that says “Please tell me they’re going to be ok.  Please promise me you’ll take care of my baby.” 

It’s hard to believe I sat in their place eleven years ago.  In fact sometimes it’s so hard to believe (and imagine) that I almost feel closer to the parent end than the student.  Perhaps that’s why with every year that passes the pleading in their eyes gets a little clearer to me, will Sadie really be one of these bewildered students in just sixteen short years?  Eek!  Somebody please stop time now.  

Right now Nic & I can do no wrong in her eyes (well ok, except for maybe when we cut the TV off).  We are her favorite people, her superheroes.  And yet here I sit watching the exact opposite: eye rolls, deliberate efforts to walk at least 10 ft in front of your parents, all the while exerting a little more independence with each step.  When does such a cosmic shift happen?  Or is it already happening?
I know the end goal of my parenting (the one that can seem so very far away at times) should be to raise a responsible, independent adult.  And deep down I do truly want this (besides I don’t want to be changing diapers and reading “How do you hug a porcupine?” for the 50th time today when she’s eighteen).  But why does it have to be so hard? 

Whether I like it or not, what God has been teaching me lately isn’t so far off from what the parents of those college students are experiencing.  Learning to trust God isn’t an easy lesson, whether you’re the parent of a two year old or a twenty two year old.

A few weeks ago our pastor said something like “Life’s lessons are better learned in a lab than a lecture.  And it just so happens that our lives are one giant learning lab.”  Admittedly I cringed a little at first because the memories of General Chemistry lab still haunt me, but he’s definitely got a point.  Who’s a better lab partner than my two year old, careless (ahem, carefree) daughter anyways?

I don’t know if it’s a toddler thing or a Sadie thing but that girl can look at a step and fall over.  In fact a few weeks ago she fell down several steps or excuse me, lack of steps.  We were hanging out at the playground with several other moms, I was holding another little girl at the top helping her go down the slide, when I felt Sadie touch my shoulder and then suddenly I felt her no more.  One minute she was there, the next she was gone. 

Almost immediately I heard a loud thud and shrieks of horror.  I look down and see my little sunscreen drenched, floppy hat wearing girl covered in mud and screaming at the top of her lungs.  I wish I could tell you I immediately kicked into super mommy mode and swept down in one leap to scoop her up but I didn’t.   Even though I was staring at what was clearly my child all I could think was “That’s not Sadie. I know where Sadie is.  Sadie would never fall like that.  I take good care of Sadie.”  And then somehow reality broke through. 

Thank you Lord we somehow escaped that accident without so much as a bruise (no really, praise to God for that).  But as I raced home to clean off all the mud and mulch from Sadie’s knees I could almost hear God saying “She’s not yours April.  You can’t protect her from everything.  You have to trust me.”  All afternoon and evening through tears, I wrestled with what could have happened and what didn’t happen and yet I still kept hearing that faint whisper “She’s my child first.” 

I love James 1:17.  I’ve written it on my nifty, Pinterest-inspired chalkboard, I’ve memorized it, I’ve even recited it to other people in situations where I deem it necessary.  But this time it was like I was hearing it for the first time “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”  Sadie is a beautiful, lovely, precious gift but are you more in love with the gift than the giver, April?  Hard words for this mama to swallow.  

[to be continued....hopefully tomorrow]

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