Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's Good-Bye Again...



That first good-bye was said as a bus prepared to take my son off to begin his adventure of becoming a sailor. I remember all too clearly standing next to that bus, with his girlfriend (now his wife) standing by my side, trying to maintain some sense of composure as I waved good-bye. As a mom I'm supposed to be the strong one - right?

As my oldest son left on this new adventure, my husband and I would begin our own adventure of coming one step closer to being empty nesters. I always knew this day would come but as these boys of mine were growing up I never imagined one of them ending up so far from home. I never imagined that one good-bye would turn into many more good-byes. I've learned that many more are yet to come.

I will say that the good-byes have become bittersweet.

Our next good-bye came on the day I sent him off on his first official assignment as a sailor. Boot Camp days were over and his Navy career was beginning. I held tightly to every last moment I had with him. My feet wouldn't leave the terminal gate until I had watched his plane disappear into the sky. Tears began falling not knowing when I'd hug this child of mine again.

His first visit home was to celebrate his 21st birthday, and then came the glorious day when we made our way to visit him.

Each visit, though, was too soon followed by another good-bye.

As his visit home for Christmas came to an end, I remember standing in our kitchen, no longer able to hold back my tears as the time drew near. My son knows me all too well. Even though I was making every effort to hide my tears, when he walked into the kitchen he asked, "Why are you crying, Mom?" My only response was to reach out and hug him.

It was time for me to make my way to him for another visit. This time we would have some mother/son alone time. It would be my last visit with him before he became a husband. It quickly became a visit that will always remain on my heart.

As parents, many of us fear what happens when they leave the comfort of home. How will we transition into this next phase of them no longer needing their mom?

But, they do need us. They will always need us.

I realized this when on the last night of my visit with my son he seemed to delay leaving my hotel room. We spent a quiet evening listening to the play list for his wedding reception and watching a movie. Shortly after he left my room he sent me a text message that simply said, "I am so happy you came to see me." Oh, how those tears began falling.

There have been many more good-byes since that visit, but through each one I've been blessed. I've been blessed to watch him grow from a child to young man and from a young man to a husband.

More than anything, I've been blessed to witness that I will never stop being his mom. We don't stop being a mom; we just enter a new chapter of being a mom. And in many ways I'm finding this chapter to be my favorite of them all.

As I reflect on these past two years filled with good-byes, I realize not only was I blessed to watch how much my son grew, but I also grew. God taught me some much needed lessons on being a mom. The most important lesson was on learning to love my children unconditionally. God gave me the gift of being a mother. With each good-bye, I've discovered the best gift I could give to my son was to let him know he was loved just because he was him.

I remember someone sharing how mothers are like a lighthouse. The primary purpose of the lighthouse is to bring its mariners home. This is what I want to be to both my children...a lighthouse that keeps on shining and always directs them home.

To keep my lighthouse shining, I turn to God.

"You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light." - 2 Samuel 22:29

19 comments :

  1. As always a great word,especially for moms. Goodbyes are hard.

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  2. Motherhood has been the ultimate school for me. Much learning here. And, yeah, my kids are only 3 and 5 (almost 6!). :) I enjoyed reading what you've learned. Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. Love this Beth.

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  4. Beth, I'm crying as I write this- sharing a few of those tears you mentioned. This post speaks to my soul. I am just beginning to experience that "letting go" stage of motherhood as next year my firstborn begins high school and my baby starts kindergarten and the three in between those two all "graduate" to new schools and stages. I've been surprised at how much grief I feel in all the change; at how hard the letting go is already. Your words about being a lighthouse are beautiful and that metaphor gives me a sense of vision and purpose well beyond these years when my handful of kids are crammed beneath our roof. THANK YOU for the beauty in this post and for the hope it spurs in me as I look to what the future might hold. So glad you stopped by the Overflow so I could find you here! Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Alicia! I love these opportunities to connect with others and see what God has placed on our hearts to share. I appreciate you coming by and sharing. I'm glad I was able to leave you with hope for what the future holds with those children of yours. Each stage of their life has its unique challenges, but each also brings many blessings.

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  5. Bethie, All I could think about was the hymn "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning," my dad's post-vacation sermon every year. This is you. You are lighting a path for others with your insightful writing. Read this for the story behind the hymn:

    http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/article/10378

    Then click here to hear an old-timey version of the hymn. I find it very moving, even if Tennessee Ernie Ford reminds me of an I Love Lucy episode.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jq9sYx2mVI

    PS If this doesn't show up as hypertext, sorry. Just copy and paste.

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    1. Thank you, Janet! What a beautiful story and hymn. I don't believe I've heard it before. Thank you for sharing. Your kind words brought a smile to my face! :)

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  6. Beth, I love the analogy that, as moms, we are called to keep the lighthouse lit so our children can always find their way home! Beautiful post!! I am glad to know that I am not the only one who has tears that flow oh so freely! God gave you a tender heart and caring spirit that your children obviously know they are always loved! Thanks for posting!
    Blessings,
    Bev

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  7. Oh my. I *love* the lighthouse analogy and your words about why yours keeps shining. Really lovely, Beth.

    And these words right here: "With each good-bye, I've discovered the best gift I could give to my son was to let him know he was loved just because he was him." That's a good word for this mama to carry with her in the days and years ahead.

    Thankful for you, Beth!

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  8. This is beautifully written, Beth. As the mother of four sons, three of whom are out of the nest, I know very well how many goodbyes it takes to get a son thru college and out on his own. I dread the empty nester stage. But it is so true that they still need us, long after they've "grown up". I cherish my memories of my little boys, and I'd do it all over again if I could. But I think you're right, this is definitely the most rewarding part of motherhood, to know our children are strong in their faith and out in the world becoming the men and women God meant for them to be. The lighthouse analogy is precious. I will keep that in my heart. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Colleen. Yes there are times I miss them as little boys and wish we could do it over again, but then when I get a surprise phone call from my oldest son just to say hello, I'm so greatful for right where we are at! Many blessings to you. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing.

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  9. Way to make me cry, Beth!! This was so beautifully written! My husband and I live in Pennsylvania, and our two sons, sweet daughter-in-law and baby granddaughter live in Colorado. We've had so many hellos and good-byes... each good-bye is so hard. I'm so blessed that my guys call me at least once a week, and my daughter-in-law sends a video of our grand every day! How cool is that?! The lighthouse analogy is beautiful. As moms, God has called us to shine His light that our children will always know their way home. Love this!
    So glad that you coming by my place led me here!
    Blessings to you ~ Mary

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Mary. Sorry for bringing tears. What a blessing daughter-in-laws are too! I was finally able to rest at night once I knew my son had someone he loved by his side every night. Thank you for sharing. I love the opportunity to connect through these link-ups. Blessings to you.

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  10. Beth, I have tears here, streaming down my face. I'm in the tween stage with my son and he feels so distant. You've given me hope and inspiration as a mother today. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for coming by Shelly. The tween stage comes with challenges and I all too clearly remember feeling that same distance with my oldest son. He still isn't quite the talker, but those quick phone calls home to say hello end up being enough. We treasure those moments when they do let us in. Many blessings to you.

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  11. Oh Beth, this is written so poignantly. Being a momma makes goodbyes so hard. I love how you acknowledge the growth as your son matures. It is a blessing to watch that. But the goodbyes? They are tough!

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    1. Thank you, Pamela. I appreciate you stopping in. I do so love connecting with others through these various link-ups. It is a blessing to watch how our children grow. Our God really is amazing.

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  12. Whew, you are a strong woman. I don't even want to think about that day that my kids take off. I know I will be ready when the time comes. You must be so proud of him!

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  13. No - we never stop being a mom even when they don't think they need us. I love how he let you love him and he gave you sweet encouragement words! There's 2 left in my nest now - and it is a tough transition for some of my boys - easy for others:) Sweet memories! When I dropped my son off to go to basic training (National Guard/Army) - it was like letting a caged bear out of my van. When we met him at graduation - oh, it was a sweet time:)

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Much love to you.