While he’s finished high school and is ready to fly out of the nest, I am tasked with the tradition of showcasing all of his 18 years of accomplishments, everything from his first steps to his graduation. I have complied with the tradition and reminisced and celebrated his young life, all while contemplating other memories within my heart. I think of Mary and how she “pondered all these things in her heart” when it came to Jesus, but I am not sure I would say I “ponder” as much as regret.
The sweet memories come rushing back in the moments I look through his pictures and talk about the milestones. I feel his squishy cheeks on my lips and see that little toddling boy running into my arms. However, all the good memories are pushed aside with my worst memories: the days I yelled too much or paid too little attention. I remember with anguish the days I lost my temper and treated my child as less than the treasure he is.
I find it ironic that while outwardly I am celebrating all of his accomplishments, inwardly I mourn all my failures. Over the last 10 years, I learned to wake up and pray, “Lord, please help me to treat my children like the precious treasures that they are.” Despite my plea to control the worst parts of myself, I still failed far too many days.
I always thought, “Tomorrow I’ll do better,” but now I’ve run out of tomorrows. How is it possible I’m already out of tomorrows? When I was 22 years old, 18 years seemed like a lifetime, but in reality, it was a flash. Now I’m left wishing for more tomorrows so I can make up for the mistakes I made.
Today he took his first steps toward moving out on his own, and that major step in his young life had me wanting to connect to him just a little more before he’s gone. I began to ask him questions including, what is your favorite childhood memory? What is the worst memory? What were holidays with your family like? Tell me about your family?
Admittedly, I was digging with a treasure in mind. The sorrow that aches within my chest was searching for some sort of memory that would tell me I didn’t do so bad. I want to know that I gave him a happy childhood and good memories despite my great failure as a mother.
Honestly, I loved hearing his memories, but they didn’t help my achy heart. After my interrogation had finished, I took the opportunity to apologize for all the mistakes I made over the last 18 years. I apologized for specific instances that will haunt me forever. My stubborn 18 year-old that rarely expresses himself responded to my apology with words that brought tears to my eyes.
“Mom, I know you weren’t perfect, and you made mistakes, but I’ve always known how much you love me. You and Dad loved me and cared for me, and I couldn’t have asked for better parents.”
That was it. He could see right into my heart and knew exactly what I needed to hear from him, in all of his 18 year-old wisdom. I just needed to know if he knew how immensely, passionately, and painfully I have loved him. He knows. Thank you God, he knows! Even more, He knows how much God loves him, and he is a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.
Yes, I managed to mess up so many times over the course of his life, and, unfortunately, I can do nothing to change those bad days, but I can rest in the fact that even on those bad days, he knew I loved him.
I think I can live with that.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. -Isaiah 40:11