Last week, I flew home from Virginia and a little over 24-hour trip. If I can make a day-trip, I do it. But sometimes I have to spend the night somewhere. And what a beautiful spot to spend the night – Virginia Beach, Virginia. I called Jon from my hotel room that looked over a stunning garden and sea of towering trees adorned in the beauty of Autumn leaves.
“We need to vacation here.” I told him, hopeful that we might actually take a vacation this summer. “It’s beautiful. I haven’t seen it, but there’s a beach. And so much to do. And Williamsburg is close. We could hit D.C. …”
“I’ve never been there.”
“Me neither. But we would love it. The kids would love it.”
They’re the reason why I will do my best to day trip rather than overnight.
Life goes so fast; I don’t want to miss a thing. Even the uncomfortable things.
Boarding my flight back to Dallas, I pass a woman sitting in the first row. I had seen her in the airport waiting for the flight. In fact, I might have pointed her toward the spot where her 3-year-old had scurried when she wasn’t looking. He made the slip about the moment his mother stood up from feeding his stroller-strapped sister to take her well-deserved Starbucks from a nice man who grabbed it for her.
“They’re so cute,” I say to the mom as I make my way on board and pass her seat. She was wrangling the 18-month-old who was destined to sit in the mom’s non-existent lap. The busy brother rummaged through the plane’s reading material in the seat next to her.
She smiled up at me, “Thanks.”
“How old are they?”
Glancing down at her daughter she said, “Well, this one is a little over one. Her brother 3. And this one,” she pointed at her belly, “well, this one will be a bit closer in age.”
I smiled back at her. And commiserated briefly, “Mine were all 22 months apart, except for my last.” And we wished each other well.
I’m almost instantly transported to days not so long ago when I boarded a plane with my brood of 4 six and under. I balanced a baby, a stroller and a ginormous carry-on loaded with snacks, games, toys – anything to distract them for a couple hours. I remember the stress and anxiety. Hoping beyond all hope that the baby in my arms would sleep. Not only for the comfort of all those around us, but also to free my arms for others who would most certainly need attention.
Those days were far from easy. The physical exhaustion alone was enough to make me feel for that pregnant mom, wrangling her own brood, undoubtedly praying for peace and a sleeping child.
Sometimes I wanted to wish my way out of that demanding season. I wondered if she did. I wanted to tell her to eat up every moment. But I knew better. Then I wondered if people want to tell me the same thing in my different stage. One where I again find myself tempted to wish away.
We can board a flight now without a care in the world. My kids pack their own bags. They can sit on a row together, without me. Our stress no longer presents itself on airplane trips. It can be found on different frontiers. Anxious moments, hope for peace now come in the form of college applications, new drivers behind the wheel, school dances. They make a mom tense. I so desperately want it to go well for us and all those around. Its hard. Sometimes, I just want to get through it.
But as I thought about that mom and what I stopped myself from saying, I say to myself, “Lean into the tense. It seems hard in the moment, but don’t just live through it. Experience it. Even stressful moments have beauty to offer.”
I took my seat at the back of the plane and reminded myself to remember.
The next morning, life continued as it had while I was gone. I made my way to the kitchen, stopping at the younger boys’ room to be sure they were awake. I snuck my hand under the top bunk covers to rub the shoulder of my still sleeping 11-year-old. He stirred. And he realized it was me.
“I’m so glad you’re home, Mom,” he groggily said.
Out of a sleep stupor. The first thing he said. I almost started bawling.
“Aww… Me, too buddy. I’m so glad to be home.”
“I don’t like it when you’re not here.”
I feel tears stinging my eyes. Really … could there be anything sweeter?
This is when I tell myself. Be there – with them. In the moment. Not running from the tension or wishing my way out of a season.
Just living in the present.
Resting in provision.
Embracing the fleeting moments.
The applications go far beyond me as a mother. They touch every challenging and joy-filled situation that life presents. Here’s to embracing rather than enduring.
Thanks for walking the road with me.