Yes, the last birthday is here. And it has come upon me unaware. It’s odd how the seasons of life ebb and flow. When my babies were small, they went through so many changes so quickly that life seemed to have a rapid, breathless rhythm. Then we came to what I think of as “the middle years.” Everybody could now walk, and talk, and feed themselves, and go to the bathroom alone. And the changes were more gradual – an inch added to someone’s stature, the advent of a pimple or two, the deepening of my guys’ voices.
And then the avalanche hit. Well, what did I expect? When you have four kids in five years, they’re going to be leaving the nest in just as close succession. And I am caught in a sort of maternal schizophrenia. I love the young adults that my kids have become. They’re the most fascinating people I’ve ever known. I revel in their company, in their humor, in their insights and achievements. I just plain like them! But at the same time, sometimes I am achingly homesick for those little people who used to live in my house . . .
The first of these was Katrina Jeannette Case, born 24 years ago today. I have to use her full name here because this was her last birthday. On August 3rd, her name will change forever, and another woman will be celebrating this day next year. And that brings it all home to me. In mid-August, Danny leaves for a year of teaching English in China. On February 7th, 2014, Steven will marry Sandra, the love of his life. Joey will be in his second year of college.
Sometimes I feel as if the Tardis has snatched me up and dropped me down in another time. I feel disoriented. The world – my world – is changing so fast. Is it jetlag? “Timelag?” Or do moms have growing pains, too? I want so much to clasp my fingers tightly, and keep my babies all together for just a little longer. But it’s too late. The last birthday is here. And they were never really mine, anyway. I just had the incredible privilege of being their mom. As I open my fingers to let them go, I remember the scripture,”underneath are the everlasting arms.”