Dear Jenny, How Do I Say Goodbye?

 Photo Credit: Freddy Castro

Photo Credit: Freddy Castro

Dear Jenny,

Often when I sit down to write a blog, I find myself thinking WWJD? What would Jenny do? ;)

As I worked on this week’s blog, staring at my cursor blinking at me, I thought to myself, I cannot write this alone - I cannot be the only voice my dear companions hear. When it comes to the bigness of what’s in my heart right now, Jenny, I need your wisdom and experience.

Recently, I was filling in my family’s Google calendar with all the dates pouring in for the final months of the kids’ school year. The to-do list seems too long, and the month looks very cluttered with places to be and tasks to get done. One date in particular caught me off guard: Kindergarten Graduation.

I felt all the feelings as my eyes focused in on those two words.

This is the day that my second born, Felicity, will graduate from her first year of school. I remember how ready I was for this child to go to kindergarten just one year ago. She made it so easy for me. I didn’t shed any tears over her first day of school, nor did I carry the same worries I had for my first born, her older brother. (I cried every day of Canon’s first week of school, and so did he!) Felicity has loved everything about kindergarten - her teacher, her new friends, learning to read, and sharing stories with me about her daily adventures.

So why did this date have me feeling sad and scared at the same time?

My mind screamed, Hold on! I haven’t had enough time to enjoy this girl’s littleness! It’s going by too fast! I reeled with thoughts of, Did I do enough?  Anxieties I had not yet felt towards this child reared up inside my mama bear’s heart.

Why are goodbyes so hard for me? Why do I struggle with change? How does a mom let go?

What I wrestled with was the fact that I am asked to say “goodbye” to my children over and over again. And some of those goodbyes catch me off guard - because there are some goodbyes a mother simply cannot prepare herself for.

WWJD? Rather, what would Jenny say (to this)?

Last week Felicity and I went on a walk, and she skipped along holding my hand. Since her love language is physical touch, she soaked up all the love this moment brought her little heart. It was a perfect spring afternoon, and she looked so beautiful walking in the sunset. She gushed about how much she loved me, and I felt the same.

You know that moment when you feel so much love in your heart for your child… just because? It’s like, I love this child so much, simply because she is.

How was it that holding this tiny petite hand in mine felt like I was holding the weight of the world?

I remembered back to when Canon was only four-years-old, and we let Chris’s youngest sister take him to Orlando to visit their parents. We were all so excited for this trip, but then the moment came to drop the two of them off at the airport. All of a sudden, that little boy wearing his backpack looked too little to be leaving me. He turned around one last time as he walked away and gave me a dimpled grin, “Bye. Love you, Mom.”

And with that, he took his aunt’s hand and walked into the airport.

I sobbed the entire car ride home. Not because I was scared for him to travel, or that I had changed my mind about him traveling. My heart ached, because it was then that I knew I would be saying goodbye to that child over and over again throughout my life.

Here I am with a new goodbye. The graduation date of my little girl brings a twinge of heartache, because I know that this is yet another one of many goodbye’s I will say to her.

Up until now, I’ve never allowed myself to grieve what my head knows to be true but my heart isn’t quite ready to bear. These children of mine will grow, and they will go; and I will have to say goodbye.

So Jenny, I turn to you friend.

I immediately think of you, because you know this ache far too well. The goodbye that you know is coming but has arrived sooner than you expected. You’ve sent your firstborn, Kolbe, off to college this past year. You know the feeling of the goodbye that mothers have to say - you know the courage and trust that it requires.

As God would perfectly have it, you also have a daughter graduating this month - from high school! Your Clare will say goodbye to her senior year at the same time my Felicity will graduate from kindergarten.

The juxtaposition of our two daughters, both walking across a stage and graduating from one season of life to the next brings me chills. Twelve years separate them, yet God’s timing is always perfect.

God’s providence amazes because, He knew I’d turn to you. I need you to remind me again, friend. Tell me one more time how to do this.

How do I say goodbye? How do I watch my heart leave the safety of the nest (again and again)? How do I trust she’ll make her way back home? How do I pray about an intention that seems too big to write in my MPC?

I just keep thinking about a mother’s goodbyes: moving from one season of life to another - packing away clothes that are too small and toys that are no longer played with. Cleaning out backpacks and closets and finding handmade treasures that only a mother knows the value. Saying goodbye to a time when mom is their child’s everything and then one day outside relationships start to become something. Saying goodbye to innocence and consoling broken hearts...

Then I think of the unexpected goodbyes: saying goodbye when a child gets married; or joins the military; or leaves for college; or heads to a third world country as a missionary. There’s also the one earthly goodbye that my human self cannot fathom, when our children are torn from us far too soon - the heart wrenching goodbye when an unborn baby or child dies, or we lose an adoptive or foster child. (*See writer’s note below)

How does a mother’s heart bear the weight of these goodbyes?

One thing I do know amidst a sea of unknowns: I know the gift of authentic sisterhood and friendship. I know the priceless gift of mothers who walk beside me as prayer companions. I know the gift of you, Jenny. While you pray for God’s protection (and His will be done) over your graduating senior, I pray for the same for my graduating kindergartener.

My surety of you and your mother’s heartbeat - this brings me such comfort. I know you’re the one that God has placed in my path to give my heart counsel as I navigate this goodbye to Felicity.

To you (and all praying moms), whose hearts beat with the same loving cadence as mine, thank you for being you.

God has woven our lives together in such a beautiful way. He knew I would arrive at this moment in time and need your wisdom, experience, encouragement and love. My eyes are on you, Jenny, as you too begin another chapter in the Klement family story and send one more piece of your heart out into the world.

My eyes are on you, friend. But most importantly, my prayers are with you too.

Onwards,
Stef

*Writer’s Note: Over the years I have journeyed in a small way with friends and family who have walked the unfathomable and painful road of burying an unborn baby or child. Others of you have spiritually adopted a child into your hearts, but because of one circumstance or another, that child did not find their way into your home. To you, dear sisters, and you know who you are, I want you to know that you are larger than life to me. You are strong and courageous, and I’m in awe of your faithfulness despite agonizing loss. I want to thank those of you who have shared this part of your life with me. I’m a better mother because of the mother you are.

 

Stef Blackwell

Stef Blackwell and her husband are raising their four kids and living the dream deep in the heart of suburbia, Flower Mound, TX. She’s a raging choleric and high functioning introvert, which some have said is impossible. But alas, here she lives to tell her tale. Her greatest strength is bossing people around; her greatest weakness is she bosses people around - and Jesus loves her just the way she is - today. She looks for the one mama who is standing alone and strives to bring them into the fold. God has given her a passion for marriage, motherhood, and living missionally.