My heart lives here

I met a woman at church on Sunday. A mother of three; girl, boy, girl, just like mine. Her youngest is seventeen years old and is attending college in another province.

We chatted about our kids and she talked about the difficulty in transitioning out of the active mothering years. How much she misses all her kids at home.

The noise, the fights for the bathroom, banging on doors.

It wasn't one of those "you just wait and see" type talks, it was just heartfelt. Mother to mother.

In five years my own baby will be seventeen. Five years.

I am at the beginning of the end of child raising. Almost at the end with Celine. How can this be?

Damien and I are watching our children grow into their own with anticipation, curiosity, and wonder. We are making plans, making changes to adjust to who they are, what they want, and what they need.

Even though they share a childhood, the same home, parents and family memories, they are their own people, as it should be, and are each going their own way.

But sometimes life, and the different interests we all have, slows down to the measure of a steady heartbeat. An hour in late afternoon, when I'm on supper and all three sit, together, drawing and painting at the table.

My heart lives here.

In these children. Around this table.

My joy. My love. They still live here. And I can't imagine my life without their daily presence, though I know it will come.

So I abide messy rooms without the angst I thought I'd feel when letting that go. I am a tidy person who abhors clutter. But I was a fifteen year old girl once and my room looked much the same.

I accept video games and Netflix, movies with "language" and more violence than I can handle. I don't have to watch them, those are interests they share with their Dad, not me.

There isn't really a lot I've had to learn to live with, yet. They get along. They're kind to each other. The youngest two are best buddies. They respect me and their Dad. We laugh, at each other, at ourselves.

I have it pretty good, as far as the early teen years go.

There are no boyfriends or girlfriends. There isn't texting or even Facebook. (There's nothing righteous in this, it's just our reality.) There is no rush to get a driver's permit. That's all coming. I know. But right now there is this.

It's been a slow childhood and a gradual transition to the responsibilities and privileges of young adulthood.

I can't take complete credit for the amazingness that is my children, but these children have been my life's work. Being with them. Guiding them. Loving them. Protecting them. Educating them. They are my investment in the future.

When I came home from our hike all battered and bruised inside, questioning my worth, I looked at these children as a remembrance of what I have accomplished and what I value.

I am not in that dark place anymore but I still marvel at them each day. Their radiance, their skills, their gifts, their heart. And when I'm feeling low, or insecure about my place in the world of work I remind myself, "you're doing this amazing work called raising three children, and look at the beauty you have to show for it, look at the relationships."

These three, my heartbeat, minister to me in my difficult moments, by virtue of their very being. Beings that I have had a significant role in creating.

They are their own people. I honor that and respect that. But they are my creation also. My finest work. And they are still here. And I don't want to take that for granted, not even for a moment.

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  • Andrea

    Andrea on Dec. 17, 2014, 2:14 p.m.

    Lovely. It's so easy to forget in the midst of messes and tantrums and bickering that this is just temporary, and that they'll be gone too soon. 


  • Kristina

    Kristina on Dec. 17, 2014, 5:19 p.m.

    This post resonates with everything in our lives right now.  Our daughter is 25, married, out of college with a job as a physical therapist, and happily making her own life.  Our son is 13, in 7th grade, and enjoying every activity he can get into.  We see the end of active parenting looming on the horizon.  This fact hit us smack in the face at the end of his first football game in September.  They won the exciting match and we had enjoyed watching the game with the fun parents of the other boys.  I looked at my husband and said, "We need to make a full, conscious effort to enjoy every single moment of the next six years.  This is all going to end faster than we can imagine!"  Poof!  Football is over, Christmas is here, and we are half-way done with 7th grade.  The thought of not having our boy at home makes me teary and I want time to slam on the brakes and slow down!  I hear parents say all too often that they can't wait for their kids to graduate and get out of the house.  I'm the opposite.  I do not long for that point in life and want it all to last a long, long time.  Thanks for posting and making me realize that I am not alone in this frame of mind. 


  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Dec. 17, 2014, 5:22 p.m.

    I'm in tears...I am trasitioning from little kids to big kids with my oldest just shy of turning 10. It's definitely a transition and in some ways it's very welcome. But it's also hard letting go of those little kids... I have 10 more years until my youngest is an adult...only 10 more years. 

    Thank you for sharing this...


  • Sarah

    Sarah on Dec. 17, 2014, 6:41 p.m.

    This resonates with me. My eldest just got home from her first semester in college. What bittersweet times and what confusing times.  I've missed her, but I've also deepened my relationship with my youngest. We're a quieter three-some at home now and, while I LOVE having her home, our new routines have suddenly reverted to pre-college and it is disconcerting! I never imagined I'd feel this way. I have always maintained that I have changed/matured/grown right along with my children. That core piece of me has changed with each developmental change from infant to toddler to child to teen. It's still happening with this transition to young adult.  So interesting.


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 17, 2014, 6:46 p.m.

      Sarah, and all mothers of teen/young adult children who also love nature and life's natural rhythms (waldorfy mom), I highly recommend the book Edge Seasons by Beth Powning (see my sidebar review). So lovely, so fitting. Also, I love Katrina Kenison's Magical Journey. Here's to mothering our children into adulthood and growing along with. 


  • Marianna

    Marianna on Dec. 17, 2014, 8:31 p.m.

    You have put into words everything I've been feeling as my oldest started high school this year and the youngest middle school. So much change, most of it the fuller, wonderful revelation of who each of them is, but some of it very disconcerting to this mom. thank you for this post. 


  • Tara

    Tara on Dec. 18, 2014, 1:46 a.m.

    Inspiriing.  I hope I can say that about my girl when she's a teen.  I worry my flaws might be too much for her to handle, but I hope my strengths come through and give her strength.


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 18, 2014, 12:16 p.m.

      Oh but Tara, that's what so wonderful about unconditional love. When we give it to our children, they give it back.

      I feel the same way about my flaws. I'm sometimes too sharp, too opinionated, pointy. I apologize a lot for things I said, how I said it, my initial reaction to something (I'm very reactive).

      Mother love is something you give, pour out of yourself, but it's also something we can recieve from our children - not the same way of course. They're not responsible for us, as we are for them. But in my times of greatest need (in this past year) the love I've given has come back to love on me. 

      One of my favorite parenting verses from the Bible, it's good whether you believe the rest of the Bible or not (smile) is this:

      Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

      This is one of my parenting mantras, relationship mantras really. 


  • Wendy

    Wendy on Dec. 18, 2014, 4:17 a.m.

    So, so inspiring! My boys are 2 and 6 and already I feel time slipping away so quickly. You have done/are doing such a wonderful job with your kids and are so gracious to share your techniques and what you have learned with the rest of us. 

    The way you have raised your children, you will always have strong relationships with them even though you might be separated physically. You've referred to your mom as your best friend here on the blog--look how close you are with her today; I suspect it will be the same with your own children. 

    What a wonderful legacy--they are your Magnum Opus!


  • Janet

    Janet on Dec. 18, 2014, 11:56 a.m.


    My youngest is 20 years old and I have pondered this in the last few days that I am glad that growing up and out is a gradual thing.  Watching our children grow up into beautiful loving adults is a gift and one to savor.  Watching my children fly into their own being is something that I am so grateful for.


  • Maria Cordner

    Maria Cordner on Dec. 19, 2014, 3:26 p.m.

    So much of this post resonated with me! Thanks for the reminder to soak in the experience that is so fleeting! Thanks for sharing your soul!


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