I have four daughters. Ann is 30, Laura Beth is 29(almost), Sarah is 25, and Kate is 23.
When Laura Beth started first grade in 1988 she wanted very much to ride the school bus with Ann and the 3 other girls on our street. It was the cool thing on the street, at the time, to do that. Ride the school bus. I wasn't crazy about the idea - their spending so much time on the bus - but it was their version of fellowship, visiting, community before getting to school. And again in the afternoon, coming home.
Laura Beth did have her fears - not of riding on the bus - but of getting on the wrong bus on that first afternoon, coming home. Of course, at that young age, the teachers were out there seeing to it that each child got on the correct bus - still - Laura Beth had trust issues. I knew Laura Beth and I knew that no amount of explaining and talking and tough love could convince her to trust the situation - yet - she equally wanted to ride the bus with Ann and her friends. I had an idea. I told her that I would drive up to the school (with Sarah and Kate in tow - ages 2 and 6 months) and stand in the shadows, but so that she could see me, and watch her get on the right bus. Mrs. Johnson, her teacher, looked puzzled when I showed up. I explained what I was doing. It was a first, but she was okay with it. She had small children to tend to. There I was. There came her line - Laura Beth, little bitty redheaded Laura Beth, cut her eyes over at me but didn't acknowledge knowing me. I didn't wave. She didn't want me to. No acknowledgement that we knew each other - but she got on the correct bus and that was that - she was good after that.
I scooted to the car once she was on the bus and headed home with Sarah and Kate, to be there in the driveway when the bus arrived to drop them off. We didn't talk much about my being at the school. Both of us, we all were, glad that first day was done and I heard all their stories - I guess - if they had them to tell - you know how children can be when they get home - they might have things to tell - they might not.
That is some of the stuff mothering consists of - and parenting. Those tiny things which we know are not a big deal - but that child we love - it's a big deal to them. Those are the ways we teach.
Today - I'm back home after driving Kate to the airport in Huntsville - Kate is flying today to Raleigh, NC where a friend will meet her. Tomorrow at 10:30 am EST Kate is flying with 5 other people to China. She'll be there 4 weeks.
Kate and I left following church - immediately following church. Grabbed some fast food and headed to the airport. Kate has been home for about a week. She arrived last Saturday. Sarah, who also is never at home, was already here but she left on Wednesday to return to New Orleans.
When Kate and I got into the terminal I took the lane that said parking. Kate was on her cell phone and motioned to me to get into the right lane, the one that said baggage claim/terminal. In other words, I didn't need to park. I could just drop her off at the curb. No Way! She got off the phone and told me, "You don't have to park - you can just drop me off". I was having none of that. None of this, "See you later - when you get back from China".
I told her - "I'll see you all the way to security and until you get through it". I even questioned her if she'd covered her bases - all those glitches that can come up in security - liquids - weird metals in the shoes - or clothing. She said she had. Well - she was wrong - security took a while. Not that long, but a little bit longer. There were some liquids they had to do something with. I'm not sure. But I had to watch and wait for a long time. She didn't even know I was doing it. I was watching from a pretty good distance. I could almost only see her silhouette. I moved in as close as I could and could tell it involved some of the ways she packed. POINT OF THIS STORY - I was watching until I couldn't. From a distance. The same thing and the same way and with the same inside feelings in my gut - like when I watched Laura Beth in the first grade or the time Ann flew to China - the summer after her freshman year. It was before 9/11 and we could go all the way to the gates and watch her plane until we couldn't see it anymore. Her flying far far away.
Mothering never stops. The other day Sarah left to drive so far back to New Orleans - all those miles all by herself. I'm so grateful when they get to where they're going - safely. So very grateful.
Anyway - today, I might as well have had my face pressed against the glass - I would have but I couldn't. The way I watched from a distance, it made me think of the time LB was getting on the bus in the first grade - and - it made me think of when Ann flew to China. Laura Beth flew over there the next year. This is Kate's return trip - and she is thrilled to be going. I'm thrilled that she's seeking God's will in her life - No more so than Sarah in New Orleans or Ann in Scottsboro or Laura Beth in McDonough.
As long as they're seeking His will and His Kingdom. That's the safest place to be - in life or in death, in any circumstance - I'm just so grateful they belong to HIM - not because I've given them to Him, as my daughters, but because they have each given themselves to Him as redeemed - Wow - this has gotten more serious than I intended.
Well - that's today. Big day. Sarah left on Wednesday - Kate left today - we've had a powerful weekend with our church - our first Missions Conference - Saturday and Sunday. I wish all could have heard some of the stories I've heard. Any questions?