the lasts in mothering…

Tomorrowellen22 morning at 11:29 a.m. (or there about…), I will no longer have a 12-and-under child in my home. All three of my Es will be teenagers.

I’m still processing this.

I remember reading about all the “firsts” of motherhood. The first time you feel the flutter of your little one tucked safe and warm deep inside. The first time you see your baby’s face. The first time you hear your name change to “mama.” The first time your child rolls over, takes her first steps, goes to school. Those firsts are precious milestones that mothers get to savor.

Did I ever read about the “lasts” of motherhood? ellen68

The last time I would nurse a baby or change a diaper. The last time I would give a bath or wipe a nose. The last time we would put training wheels on a tiny bicycle and later take them off. The last time I would teach a child to read. The last time I would prepare for a 13th birthday.

I think I’ve forgotten more lasts than I’ve remembered

I’m sure I heard about the lasts of motherhood somewhere by someone but I didn’t know and I didn’t listen.

I didn’t know thellen93at the lasts are not lost in some matrix of time and space far, far into the future but are closer than I ever imagined.
I didn’t know that the lasts are the moments that are often missed by the lens of the camera in the hurry to document the next first.

Mostly, I didn’t know that the lasts of mothering are far more precious than the firsts.

Tonight was another last, only this time I knew to savor it.


We have a family tradition that on the 13th birthday, we present our kids with a book of letters of wisdom and encouragement from friends and family. Tonight we img_2240presented our last 13th Birthday Book.

I’m still processing it.

We sat in a booth at our favorite pizza place {her birthday dinner of choice} and I watched her as she read words of affirmation, letters of encouragement, messages steeped with memories, and love notes from those who love her most.

She read slowly and savored the words.
I watched her and savored the moment… this last child of mine on her last night of childhood.

A sweet last of mothering I’ve tucked deep inside to savor for a long time.

this mom’s identity…

On Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind 
and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. 
Just five minutes. 
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Your words. 
This shared feast.

Those are Lisa Jo’s words… joining with her and her writing community at Gypsy Mama for five minute Friday.   
Today’s topic: identity
I wrote of this yesterday… this sense of finding my identity now that my children need me less and less.  A decade and a half of my life spent as Mama, Mommy, Mom.  A decade spent educating at home… gathering around great books, exploring together through field trips, and living life together.  I would do it all again.. over and over and over.
I wouldn’t have spent this time in my life any other way.  I’m now wondering though, what do I do next?  In investing that much of my life, I also invested my identity.  I laugh because I meet people in my area now who say to me, “oh, you’re that homeschool mom.” To my children’s friends, I am “Eric’s mom” or “Emily’s mom” or “Ellen’s mom.”  Perhaps to the neighborhood dogs, I am even “Ebony’s mom.”
I knew parenting wasn’t for the faint of heart before I jumped in.  I did not know, though, that I would willingly invest myself to my very core into the lives of these 3 Es.  I didn’t know that I would want to give up my individual identity in order to help them form theirs.  I didn’t know they would become so much of who I am.
Even in the midst of a new school this year… a broken arm and a 3 hour surgery… a trip to another country… writing a novel… and another year of homeschooling my youngest, I’ve spent this year re-evaluating.  
Who am I?  What will I do next?  What is my purpose?  My worth?  My identity?
I don’t have all the answers yet… and I may never.  However, I do know the One who knows.  And… I know that my true identity belongs in Him.  
I also know that my children will always need me.  
They have their own identities now… I don’t need to give them mine.

YES, Ma’am… you are amazing!

Do you know that you are amazing?

Yes… YOU!
and YOU…
and me…

we are all amazing!

I don’t know about you, but I’m a middle-aged mom.  I’ve invested fifteen years into my offspring, eighteen years into my teammate.  I’ve done more loads of laundry than the sum total of the population of the state of Indiana… and I’ve probably done more dishes than that.   I’ve homeschooled for a decade and I changed diapers for almost that many years.  And, I’ve fallen into bed exhausted night after night wondering if I managed to accomplish anything in my day.

For all this time, mothering is how I’ve defined myself.  It’s where I found my spot in this world and it fulfilled a deep need in me that I didn’t even know existed.

What do I do now?

What do you do when your family needs you less and less?  
What do you do when you’re no longer sure of your place because your place is fading?  What do you do when you find yourself a middle-aged mom 
whose children need her less and less?

Instead of putting myself out to pasture, I want to encourage you… and you… and me.  Though we may be middle-aged mothers with increasingly independent children, we are still amazing women.  We have been created in the image of the Creator with specific gifts and abilities personally designed for each of us.

Take a moment this weekend as your family celebrates you (and if they don’t celebrate you, call me and I will!).  Look at what you’ve done!  You are an expert in managing, multi-tasking, event planning, transporting, training, educating, task completing, and the list goes on and on.  You had “real-life” training… you excelled… you have much to offer… you are the expert!

Join me this weekend in celebrating our accomplishments as Middle-Aged Amazing Moms (MA’AM)… YES, Ma’am… you are amazing!

I’d love a comment hearing of 
what makes you amazing…

joining with my sister
and the community at 
imperfect prose

team of two on GratiTuesday…

A week ago, we celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary… nothing fancy, just lunch out at an authentic taco stand.  The fact that he had returned to home the night before from eight days in Guatemala was enough for me.

I missed him while he was gone…. I missed him much!  Isn’t it amazing what we don’t realize we have until it’s gone?  The void of him gone was much bigger than the hole in my heart that he filled all those years ago.  

Know what I missed the most, though?  I missed my teammate.  For these years, we’ve been a team.  Sometimes we’ve been amazing together… like the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s… we’ve been unstoppable.  During those times, women have commented to me, “I wish I had a marriage like yours.”  It was good.

We’ve also been a team much like last year’s Indianapolis Colts.  Times where one (or both) of us has abdicated our role and stepped out of the game.  It becomes quite obvious that you can’t play without all the players.  Though no one said this, I wonder if people often thought, “why do they bother to stay married?”  It wasn’t so good.

Years ago, my brother and sister in law wrote a marriage curriculum called “Team of Two.”  At the time, they were a team of two, a family of two.  I ignorantly thought that that title had nothing to do with me because we were a team of four, almost five.  I missed the point… I think I even missed the entire target.  Their team of two was their marriage, not their family.  The two of them, regardless of how many children come later, were a team and they played the game of life together, both fulfilling their God-given roles.  Together their team was a force to reckon.

On this GratiTuesday, I’m respectfully borrowing Steve and Susy’s title…  I am so grateful for my team of two!  Life is not easy and in these years of driving children to and fro and passing the baton back and forth, I often lose heart.  I’m easily overwhelmed with the details of when… where… and for how long.  Yesterday was one of those days.  A day where Chad was on call for surgery (this really means, don’t count on him but he may be around…).  I’ve considered typing out the driving schedule I had yesterday for posterity but it really doesn’t matter… it was simply a very busy day, and I thought I was the sole driver.  I forgot, for a moment, that we are a team of two.  The reminder came when the text came…

I’m off.  I will come get Eric and take him to work.

I was reminded, again, that I’m not in this parenting game alone.  I’m not in this marriage game alone.  I’m not even in the game of life alone.  I am in those things as a team member and thus, it doesn’t fall on me to make sure the game happens.  Instead, we do it together, and I am grateful!

growth spurt…

The doctor told him, last week, that he was probably done growing.  At 6’2″ and 15 years of age, he may only get one more inch of height.  

He was disappointed.

What he doesn’t know, is that, really… the doctor doesn’t know.  While it is true that this doctor has seen the inside (quite literally) of Eric’s elbow and knows from first hand experience that there is no growth plate left… it is equally true that this doctor is making an educated guess.  Much more educated than my guess, I might add.

I tried to tell Eric this… 
I highly doubt that he believes me.  

I should have told him that he would grow in other ways… 
but, maybe he already knew that.

While he may be close to finished growing physically, he’s doing an amazing amount of spiritual growing lately…  just about the time that this mom thought he had settled comfortably in a stagnant pond of mediocrity.

This one… that 6’2″ 15 year old I mentioned… he shot up a few spiritual inches this week.  I’ve been praying for years that my children would experience God in ways that they recognize Him for Who He is.  I’ve prayed that God would be gracious and merciful and reveal Himself to them in ways that their own individual maturity could recognize.  I’ve prayed that He would move in their hearts and they would know Him.

Though he has known Jesus for most of his life…

he now knows Him deeper…
he knows what it’s like to feel the Spirit move within…
he’s felt the Wind stir…
he’s obeyed the Voice, wondering…
and he’s experienced the tears of joy that bubble up…
when you know you’re part of something much greater than you

…just when this mom thought he was comfortably floating along, he gave his Bible away… to a friend in need.

…a spiritual growth spurt
of a tall 15 year old
and an answer 
to this mom’s prayers.

let’s party!

They’re leaving … on a jet plane… and I’ve decided to party while they’re gone (my RN husband and 12 year old daughter are traveling to Guatemala today for a week long medical missions trip.  This is their second trip and I now understand that my heart will be in a knot for 8 days). 

 It’s been a few years since I’ve joined the Ultimate Blog Party.   So, I figure there is no better way to make time go faster than to party, right?

Thanks to Janice and Susan at 5 Minutes for Mom for hosting the Ultimate Blog Party.  Join in!  

I’m Heidi… and, honestly, sometimes this is what being a mom to 3 feels like for me.  Crazy, out of control fun… and often my peripheral vision is blurry and unclear!  I never know what’s coming next.  

I am mom to 4 Es (if you count the dog).  Eric is 15, Emily is almost 13, Ellen is 8, and Ebony, our lab/chow mix is 3.  For many years I described myself as a homeschool mom.  I found my identity in the homeschool community and started to dig deep roots there… thinking I would be the quintessential homeschool mother who graduates her brilliant children with high honors. 

The greatest lesson I’m learning these days is to not get very comfortable with life.  This place… this earth… this life, it’s not my home.  God has taught me this lesson by uprooting me a few times.  Last year, he uprooted Eric and he went to public school and loves it!  He’s a dynamite athlete and is excelling above our expectations with his academics and with his athletic ability.

So… I redefined myself as a homeschool mom of two girls and thought I could be happy letting Eric do his thing and I would graduate my two girls.  Wrong again.  In mid August of last year, God allowed Emily to win a one-year scholarship to our local Christian academy for 7-12 grades.  She loves it there and in her own right is excelling in sports and classes above our expectations.  She’s clearly where God wants her… and I’m down to one at home.

I no longer have visions of grandeur and after ten years of homeschooling, I’m learning to redefine myself.   I’m realizing that I am uniquely made by my Creator to accomplish great things for Him.  I am not defined by one aspect of my life, whether good or bad.  Instead, there is a grander scheme and I have been made for more.

 I am a homeschool mom but I am also many other things…
I am child of the King, seeking to live for Him
I am a wife, of almost 18 years, who still struggles to put her husband first
I am a mother, to three incredible individuals
I am a home maker, whose home is constantly being unmade
I am a sister, who maybe is finally figuring out that sisters are your best friends for life
I am an aunt, I have 11 nieces and nephews who I adore
I am a friend, who is blessed beyond measure
I am an elders wife, though I often fail to embrace my role in ministry
I am an author, who, now that 2 kids are in school, is pursuing a life-long dream

So… you see, that funny iPhoto picture of Ellen and I.  I think it’s an accurate portrayal of myself.  I’m learning to let go… to have fun but to not get comfy.  This life… my life… it’s fleeing and maybe that is why the edges are blurry and unclear.  I don’t need to see what is in the edges, I just need to keep my eyes on Jesus.