Thursday, May 5, 2011

At the Crossroads

Here I sit at the next crossroads of my life. They seem to be frequent and heavy these days, with little time to process and evaluate the new stage of my journey.

Admittedly, I dreaded the first big turn in the road, when my first child moved away--eight weeks after her graduation and me seven months pregnant. It was a hormonal time. I soon realized that my girls would be distanced not only by age but by physical proximity, but I dreamt of the time they would bond during Christmas break and Evie's first summer.
That became an unrealized dream. The morning after I left Rexburg, Heidi met a guy--THE guy--and slowly I watched my carefully laid plan disintegrate. Not only did Heidi's engagement mark the end of my hopes for my girls, it trumpeted the end of my nuclear family--a loss I had to mourn. Never would my entire family live under the same roof again. Never would Evie have sleepovers with both of her big sisters. Never would I mother all my chicks as I had always done. It was beyond painful--the physical hurt bent me in directions I never knew I could twist. I prayed for strength at times. At other times, I prayed for understanding. And at one desperate moment, I remember praying with all my heart to be numb from feeling anything, for fear I would dissolve at the intensity of the pain I felt, like Elphaba in a puddle of my own tears.
Most of the time I recognized this phenomenon as stupid, but that didn't make it any less painful.

Five months after Heidi's wedding--I had come to grips with parenting a married child--she had chosen so well and I could see how happy they were. Tucker had left for college, and it was so much easier to see a child move away this time. And I wasn't pregnant. That could have been a small part of it.

Then the call came. Another crossroads. Heidi and Sam were starting a family: in seven months. I was shocked, but it was a long way away, and I would have time to acclimate to the idea, wouldn't I? This new title, this new responsibility, this new destination. I didn't feel that old--old enough to have a daughter having a baby.

I collected all of Evie's outgrown clothes, my well-used boppy pillow, and my breast pump. Better to give them to Heidi than Goodwill, right? Why was this so hard? I began preparing in abstract for the birth: where I would need to be and what I would need to prepare.

I just can't move past the signpost marking this new path. I still change diapers at my own house, still search for lost pacifiers under my own crib, still wipe markers from my own walls.

I don't want to face where this is dragging me--into the demographic of gray hair, elastic pants and pill bottles in my purse. I'm too young for this. I still volunteer at school and make kids practice the piano. I'm mourning the loss of motherhood--when it was my sole responsibility and completely defined who I was. Who I AM, right?

Now there will be a new me, one I'm hesitant to embrace, even though I know it will be filled with joy. A new me that I stutter to pronounce and almost cringe at the reference.

I gave my little kids an emotional goodbye hug this morning, knowing that when I return, I will be different, having assumed my new title.

Now, here I am, just minutes away from the signpost. My tears and my excitement have tag-teamed the entire day, wrestling for dominance. I know who will win. And I can never go back.

A miraculous FIRST bookending a glorious LAST. All part of the same journey. I guess it's time to take this new road.
I'll get my boots. I'm going to need them.

Happy Mother's Day.



  1. Being a grand mother is one of life's most hidden treasures. I absolutely love it, and you will too!

  2. wait... you DON'T already wear elastic pants? They are so comfy. ;)

    congratulations, anyway.

  3. Oh, rock those boots lady!

    Thanks for being so honest here, Jen. Really!

    Have a wonderful week with little Ellie!

  4. It is a bizarre feeling.
    You are caught in limbo for about a minute, then..............being a grandma is awesome!!!!!

    Hope you are enjoying snuggle time.

  5. You will be great at this, like you are at everything that is part of your life. I think grandmothering takes some getting used to for everyone, but there is nothing to compare with the sweetness of it. The love that you feel for your own child just gets extended on to their children. And then you get to go back to your own life and all is good. You don't REALLY become an old mother until your last child leaves. That is when life really changes, and you have a long, long time before you will feel old because of that. That is why you are so lucky to have older children AND younger children.

  6. I think you'll find your granny boots to be extremely stylish and oh so comfortable. Have fun!

  7. Them boots was made for walkin'...

    And you are at the head of the best trail yet!


  8. It's a good thing you have such fabulous boots! I hope you will keep us posted as you forge this new path. I'm always thankful you lead the way for me-and are willing to tell about your missteps and adventures!

    Can't wait to see a picture of you and Ellie!

  9. We have soon to be 20 grandchildren and I don't have gray hair, no pills, and no elastic pants. Just keep wearing your boots and you will be fine.

    PS So as not to be misleading...I could have gray hair, but I just choose not to. Not yet, anyway.

    And one more thing...I just read that Marjorie Hinckley once said age 50 was the best and that is the age she would like to be for eternity.

  10. Evie is lucky...She will not only have a great relationship with Heidi (eventually) but she will be BEST BUDS with her...NIECE! My oldest niece is 2 years younger than me - and in a lot of ways, she's like my sister. It's a special bond that we share and I am excited that Evie and Ellie will be good friends, too! (And for the record, my sister and I have a great relationship - though there is a 19 year age gap!)
    Good luck and tell Heidi (and Ellie) hello for me. :o)

  11. Well first of all, they're not elastic pants - they're EATIN' PANTS. And you don't look like you even need them. At all. I liked this post - every real, very honest, displaying emotions I've felt and lived through myself. As I said, The "G" word will grow on you. Or you can make up your own name. Whatever the name, they will love you, and you will love them so fiercely its hard to be away from them. You're gonna like this new adventure. I promise. And look at the beautiful little niece for Evie to mentor!

  12. I love having my kids so spread out--the oldest will be 28 this summer and my youngest is just 10.
    That means I get to have adult friendships with my oldest ones AND I get to go down the Barbie aisle with the youngest!
    I'm also in the awesome stage of being a grandparent and I love it!!!
    I enjoy the many seasons of life, and count myself blessed that each one lasts a long long time. You will too!

  13. One of the most amazingly written posts I've read here. And then all the lovely comments you have to help guide you. Enjoy your week, I can't wait to hear who you are when you return. I'm thinking a big puddle of mush perhaps?

  14. Happy Mother's Day to you. What an amazing time for you. How sweet for those 2 babies to grow-up together!

  15. I wish I was there so much! I can't wait to see her!!

  16. Bawling on this one...
    I can relate to this on so many levels...
    Can't wait to hear about your journey and for the record...You always pick great boots, so I have no doubt that you will be a smokin' hot gggggg....oh I can't say it! ;o)
    Have a beautiful Mother's day!

  17. Just had the itch to go back and read your Mother's Day Posts from last year. They made me cry, especially the one about your sweet Grandmother. Hope you are enjoying your Mother's day in Idaho.

  18. this was just so beautiful. i think about the day when my kids will move on from our home and build their own. it always sounds so sad to me. maybe that's why i say i want them to be little forever b/c it's so easy and they're all mine. everything i've always wanted. b/c when they're gone my biggest fear is that i'll go back to being the unfulfilled person i was before they came...but then i wonder how that could ever be possible b/c everything will have changed. i hope i can enjoy it with the grace and courage you are doing it.

  19. What a beautiful and honest post. :)