This time five years ago, I was a basket case . . . an emotional wreck . . . one second away from tears every minute of every day. All because I was helping my daughter make plans for her October wedding. Don't get me wrong. I was 100% for the wedding. I completely and totally adored my son-in-law to be (still do). Ever since my precious Gabrielle was a wee child, I had been asking the Lord to bring into her life a man of integrity and good character, a man who would honor the Lord, a man who would cherish and protect her, a man who would love her passionately and unconditionally, a man who would be faithful to her, a man who would share her hopes and be kind to her dreams, a man who would spur her on to follow the path God has for her, a man with whom she would have a bond of love, friendship, affection, trust, understanding, and respect. Without question, I knew that Scott was this man. So why was preparing for the day Gabrielle and he would join their lives together bringing me so much sadness, so much heartbreak, so many tears?
Part of the answer is that I was grieving what I perceived to be a loss of something I had cherished for 25 years. Gabrielle and I are not only mother and daughter, but we are very close friends . . . have been for years. We've been more or less joined at the hip, doing everything together---shopping, lunch, chick flicks, late night chats, etc. Although I knew I wasn't losing a daughter, but gaining a son, I also knew I was losing those joined-at-the-hip days. I knew that she had to transition from me being #1 in her heart to Scott being #1. I could sense her making that natural transition from me to Scott, and it hurt so much letting her go. But I had to let her go, and I wanted to do so gracefully. I didn't want her to feel guilty for loving him, for making that natural transition from mom to husband.
Deep in my heart, I knew God was telling me not to worry, to just trust him, to truly believe that I wasn't losing anything, just gaining something even more beautiful---I just had a hard time putting aside the negative thoughts and listening to that still, small voice.
These words from the book Embracing Your Second Calling really spoke to me: "I had to stop holding on to the past closeness I so enjoyed and move to a place that was painful for me but necessary for my son (daughter in my case). As much as I loved our relationship as it was, I needed to make a change that might leave us both missing the familiar."
Besides grieving the loss of closeness and time together, I also feared that she wouldn't need me anymore. (I'm an ISFJ, and we types desperately need to be needed.) I agonized over the lack of purpose I felt would soon be upon me.
The wedding was nearly five years ago, and I have to be honest and say that the most profoundly bittersweet moment of my life was when the two of them drove away from the reception. I felt like she was driving out of my life, and I nearly had a breakdown then and there. Thankfully, my husband and a few caring friends were right there to see me through. By God's grace, I made it through that night and through the week-long honeymoon, when I had virtually no contact with my beloved girl. I made it through my first Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings without her in my house. (She has embraced the "open door" policy she saw lived out in our home and was the Thanksgiving and Christmas hostess last year.) I made it through New Year's Eve without my sweet girl by my side. I made it through the next day and the next day, and the next, until here we are at August 26, 2020, just short of five years since Gabrielle and Scott's wedding.
And you know what I have discovered in these past five years? I have discovered that I needn't have worried. God was right---my relationship with my daughter is still very beautiful. We may not see each other every day, but we do see each other once or twice a week (sometimes more often). We talk on the phone almost every day (she likes me to pray for her as part of our conversation), and we text several times a day. Her love for her husband has not lessened her love for me---truly, her heart is big and she has more than enough love for both of us. She still enjoys hanging with me---we go out to lunch together, go shopping, watch movies. She still shares her heart with me. And she still needs me. The fact of the matter is, she will always need me, just in a different way than before. If you stop to think about it, all their lives, our children need us in different ways than they did before. Gabrielle needed me at 5 in a different way than at 1, and a different way at 10 than 5, etc. And now, as a married woman of 30, she still needs me, just not in the same way she did as a single, 20-year old daughter.
I not only believe that Gabrielle still loves and needs me and that we will always be close, I am seeing it lived out in my life. We still have a beautiful relationship; yes, it's different than it was, but it's still very beautiful. And so, dear mom of the almost empty nest, may I encourage you today. I truly believe that if you have built a strong relationship with your children, the relationship will last, it will stay strong. Yes, things will change as your kids move into adulthood and marriage, but change doesn't have to be a bad thing---those relationships can still be very beautiful!
Grace & Truth
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Grace & Truth
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