I stand at the kitchen island slicing tomatoes. The lettuce and onion are already on the tray. There are french fries baking in the oven and a pan of brownies cooling on the counter.
My oldest, a senior in high school, yells through the open back door, “Mom! The grill is ready! Can somebody bring me the burgers?”
I grab the plate of hamburgers and the long spatula from the drawer and walk out to where he stands on the patio. “Thaaaaaaank you!” he says, in that funny way of his. I pat him on the back and smile as I walk back inside.
“Girls!” I call. “It’s time to set the table!” And they come running, 12 and 9 years old, still giggling over whatever silly YouTube dance they’d been practicing together, to lay out the plates and napkins and utensils.
I keep walking through the house and then out the front door this time to where my husband and our 15-year-old son are finishing up the yard work. “Dinner’s just about ready, guys. Time to wash up!”
“We’ll be right in,” says my husband.
“Thank goodness!” says our son. “I’m starving!”
The Beautiful Ordinary
I smiled as I walked back inside. These are my people! My heart and soul out in the world, dancing around, cooking dinner, helping each other.
It wasn’t a special occasion, though. We weren’t celebrating anything in particular. It was just a plain old ordinary Saturday afternoon. And we were all together, and it was beautiful.
Maybe that was a special occasion of its own.
Because the closer we get to graduation, the less ordinary these days seem, and the more I treasure all of the seats at our kitchen table being filled. The more my heart comes close to bursting when these children of mine laugh together.
And the more I find myself offering up quick prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of motherhood.
Tissues Not Included
I was so excited when my copy of Danielle Bean’s newest book Giving Thanks and Letting Go: Reflections on the Gift of Motherhood arrived on my doorstep.
A friend who’d been given the chance to read an advanced copy had told me it was a must-read at this stage in my life. And after devouring the whole book in just under 48 hours, I have to agree with her.
In 10 chapters and just over 100 pages, Danielle Bean takes her reader on a journey through years and experiences that inspire laughter, tears, and everything in between. It was an absolute joy to read.
As a mom who’s about to send her very first baby out into the big wide world, I’m kind of wishing each copy of the book came with a complimentary box of tissues.
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Reminiscences and Reassurance
Throughout the book, we travel back with the author as she remembers specific moments with each of her eight children. We read of this one’s difficult birth, that one’s broken bone, and the other one’s marriage proposal. She shares sweet stories about her relationship with her husband and how the years have seen their marriage grow. And she shares with us how her mission, her career, and her manner of evangelization has changed over the years.
The constant theme in all of this, though, is the love, mercy, and generosity of God who is the source and summit of it all.
God has mercy on mothers who feel gaps. And the biggest mercy of all is the reminder that these big kids who tear out pieces of our hearts and fly around the world with them are part of his plan for good. Our grown-up children can use those parts of themselves, formed by the pouring out of our very selves, to bless and change the world, one person, one connection at a time.
Giving Thanks and Letting Go
As I lean back in my chair after dinner later that night, wiping tears of laughter from my eyes, I send up (yet another) quick prayer in gratitude for these children and this husband of mine. And I realize that maybe not all of those tears were from laughter.
There’s a poignancy to motherhood that is becoming more and more real to me as the years go on. And I realize something important—I’ve been letting them go for some time now, already.
From the first time they toddle away from us on their own two chubby legs, to that first solo bike ride, to asking for the car keys for the evening, our children are always asking us to let them go.
And little by little, step by step, we do just that.
We teach them, we steady them, we give them a soft place to land…and then we let them fly.
Thank you, Danielle Bean, for writing a book that can be a soft place for us to land when they do.
Have you read this book yet? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
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