Friday, September 14, 2012

The Mama's Ache

I'm a blubbering fool today. 
Crying for a woman I met for only a second. 
Heart aching for all that her story means to me.  
I don't have time to cry today.  It doesn't fit into my schedule. 
My kids are avoiding me and eyeing me suspiciously as the tears fall.
I remember being so uncomfortable when my own mama cried.  
There was no reminder beep on my phone that this was a grieving hour.
But sometimes I wonder if it's okay to throw away the time and just weep. 

A happenstance encounter at the bus stop led me to meet a never-seen neighbor. 
Has it really been over a year since they moved in and how have I never seen her before? 
I had heard they had a daughter and grandson living with them.   
I've just been too busy to meet anyone new.   Too busy to actually be a neighbor.    
Her garage was filled with boxes and she crossed the street to comment on the cold weather...
She didn't want to talk and I didn't want to talk...I wasn't wearing any make-up and unmatching sweats covered my body.  I totally looked the part of the stay-at-home mom. 

Maybe it was my Air Force sweatshirt that made her eyes water.  
Maybe it was my two little children that caused her to share.  
"My son-in-law's just joined the Navy.   They are moving to San Diego and since they've lived with us since December the movers are picking up their stuff today.  Today.  My grandson is 2..." and her voice trailed off. 
She bravely lifted her head...fighting to be strong.  
Oh my.   How could I want to cry with someone I don't even know? 
But I get it.   And then again, I don't get it.     
I was the daughter.   I had the baby.  
My mama fought the same battle to be excited for our adventure while recognizing what it was going to cost her.  
I always thought I was the brave one...the military spouse.  
Now, I kind of think the mama is the brave one.  
Because she doesn't get to go on the adventure.  
She has to let go.  

My own mom watched her oldest daughter give birth to her first grandson.  Her only grandchild.    
Cradling this 3 day old newborn---her baby's baby---she watched her daughter--all grown up--directing movers to pack up everything they owned to move across the ocean.  
To move to a foreign land.
The baby swing---still in the box---a gift from the grandparents. 
Would she get to see the grandson swinging? 
The highchair---cushioned with packaging wrap---a gift from the aunt and uncle. 
Would this baby know grandma and ever let her feed him?   
The baby book---allowed to travel in the crates because it was empty of moments---because this newborn had not yet lived long enough to fill any pages aside from the day of his birth.
Would she bear witness to any of those stepping stones or would she only read about them on the pages of a blue baby book?      
How must that moment have hurt my own mother.  
The heart swelled with joy at this new life she was holding.  
The knowledge pressing against her chest that this growing family was going to be so, so, so far away.   
Doesn't a mom want to see it all?    How could she handle the thoughts of what she would miss.     
I'm sure she longed to be a stone's throw away when her own daughter was for sure going to be so tired and so afraid.   

My heart has never ached for my own mom as it does right now.  
Being a mama sure does hurt. 
"Love's a deep wound and what is a mother without a child and why can't I hold on to now forever and her here and me here and why does time snatch away a heart I don't think mine can beat without?" (One Thousand Gifts.   Ann Voskamp)
To think that I have a house full of children that bring me joy.  
That will also cause me ache. 
Is it better to have an empty house and not know such pain?   
I don't think so, but I do think that I need to schedule in grieving hours for the rest of my life.  
Time to let the tears flow as I once again am reminded to hold my children closely, yet with palms wide open.

I remember that God is good.   
While my own mama surely cried rivers of tears as the plane stole her own flesh and blood, God provided joy and hope.    The moment of ache gave birth to a new song.      
The neighbor that lives behind me does not know yet that new song.   She doesn't know what it will look like to be a far-away grandma and a far away mama. 
But God will provide more than she can imagine. 
He abounds in love.   
He's the giver of gifts.  
He equips us for all that He asks us to do. 
And if He asks us to watch our daughter move with our only grandson, even then will He be in that moment and provide us with what we need to bravely let go. 
I've seen Him give an abundance of grandchild moments to my mom.    
He's provided hours and days and weeks and months that my mom has been able to spend making memories, filling baby books with moments, and enjoying her own grandkids.   
She knows the excitement of a gaggle of her beloved waiting anxiously and loudly outside the airplane waiting to sweep her up in their own excitement at her presence.
God has given her not the way she envisioned...but in a new song. 
The song that He wrote for her.    
God knows the heart of the mama and He will provide.    

I don't have any more time to cry today.  
There's math tests to grade.    Vocab quizzes to give.   Verses to learn.   
I am praying today that the Lord grows me into a brave mama that can open her arms lovingly, excitedly, faithfully when it's time to let her babies fly.  
He can do that.    I know He can do that. 
I'm believing that even though I feel as weak as I can be at this moment, that He can make this fearful mom brave...when I need to be.