The Mama Vault – #9 THE SIDE-B OF MOTHERING
I’m sitting at a table in an Airbnb in someone’s backyard in the middle of a hip little neighborhood in Austin. Here’s what I’m thinking about.
Of the season of mothering when children lived under my roof. It caught me by surprise every time another one left.
It was vapor.
Here one minute, gone the next.
There are days when I miss my kids’ presence so much it’s an actual physical ache.
Thirty seconds ago, all my people were gathered around the dinner table in an old farmhouse on the river talking about ordinary things over an ordinary meal. I didn’t spend even a minute thinking how ordinary would become unordinary in a blink.
There is no escaping it if you’re a mother. There isn’t a magical switch we can flip to turn off mothering when they grow up and leave. There’s not even a dimmer switch. It would be easier if there were.
Whether you are currently mothering tiny ones, all grown-up babies about to leave the nest or in-between ones, the years are already flying by. You and I know. All the mamas know. Babies grow and then they go.
But I’m here on this morning to tell you something.
Be sad for a minute or two, but do not dismay.
Good stuff is coming. Mothering is not over. You can count on another season of it.
All the hard things of motherhood always have a flip side—a Side B. It’s no different when your heart breaks when you must let go. There is Side B. It’s the gift God gives us after the years we spend pouring into our children. It’s the way he fills us back up and soothes our hearts.
On Side B, things like this happen.
Your full-grown, independent daughter will ask for your help. Of course you’ll say yes, but there’s so much packed into your simple answer she’ll never know. She doesn’t know you will move every single mountain to clear a path to her. If you can’t move it, you’ll hike over it. You would do it all for an hour of her, but she’ll do better than that. She’ll book a guesthouse with high ceilings, tall windows and beautiful light where the two of you will work and crash for four entire days.
Heaven. Side B. The gift.
You will breathe her in from morning until nighttime, wallowing in the nearness of her—remembering the things woven into her being that have not changed over all the years. You’ll marvel at her gracefulness and creativity as she works. You’ll be moved by her efforts to make everything perfect and comfortable for you. You’ll witness her kindness to everyone in her path, and your heart will swell. You’ll smile inside seeing her impatience in little things, because that, too, is attached to the whole of her you know so well.
You’ll make food together, have dear conversations, and sip wine–all while watching cheesy holiday movies. You’ll laugh at things only the two of you will find funny and you’ll eat ice cream right out of the carton. When one of you is tired from the work and the long day, the other will fill the gap, offering encouragement and cheers. It’s intuitive for you both because, though certain parts of your lives have separated, other parts have not.
The dance is familiar. It always will be.
There is a flip side—a Side B.
Mothers if you are hitting the brake, but still time refuses to slow down, know the cake you’re enjoying now has the most delicious icing on Side B. There are beautiful days ahead waiting for you. Magical days. Days so good you will pinch yourself. On those days, you will get your front-row seat back—worn in all the right places from all the years you sat there. It will feel comfy. You’ll settle right in for an hour or four days. Sometimes more. Watching the humans you raised be fully alive in their unique way.
The delight you’ll feel for whatever amount of time you get to linger there will catch you by surprise.
You’ve run the race and God is pleased.
It will be the best kind of gift from God–delightful in ways you never imagined.
So yeah. Things like this happen on Side B.
Again and again.
It always catches me by surprise.