Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

Another school year is ending which means an entire slew of parents will soon sprint, tip toe, or be yanked unwillingly into the empty nest club as a proverbial rite of passage.

Over the years I’ve talked to moms and dads whose feelings about the organic transformation run up and down the emotional gamut. The spectrum is anywhere from freedom fighters who started the countdown decades in advance, all the way to panic-ridden souls digging in their heels attempting to defy the cosmic laws of inevitability.

Where did I once stand within this muddy mire of mixed emotions? Glad you asked. I guess you didn’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Seems two years ago I was somewhere between digging in my heels attempting to defy the cosmic law of inevitability and digging in my heels attempting to defy the cosmic law of inevitability.

Does this mean I mentally refused to accept the looming transition? Yes or yes? Don’t answer.

So, where do your emotions fall, fellow keeper of a soon-to-be vacant bed of twigs and grasses? Perhaps you still dance in denial or are a spiritual warrior having girded your loins with trustful surrender.

Some of you, when the adolescent years fried every last nerve, made a proactive move to book a two-week cruise set to sail the day after unpacking Junior’s last box in the dorm. Round of applause to you for planning the getaway while your feelings of sorrow over saying goodbye had yet to conceive in your tepid heart.

As for me, the initial filial upheaval caused emotional vertigo. My kids walked away, yet I remained standing still. In an instant I realized this truth: after eighteen years of loving on our kids like there’s no tomorrow, tomorrow comes.

Like real fast.

Hands-on, face-to-face, completely enmeshed, we can see what’s going on, orbital parenting comes to a screeching halt. A new, intrinsic approach ushers in. A complete surrender and trust in God mandate, all sugared up in a little phrase called letting go.

Barf.

Letting go has no semblance of sweetness, even for a diabetic. Loving from a distance creates a profound void. Days once filled with loud music, laughter, drama, friends, sports, activities, homework projects, and chaotic meals give way to empty timelessness where only memories linger.

But, alas, Websters.

The dictionary gifts us with psychological word play to help us cry-laugh our way beyond the prism of conventional parenting into the emerging season of solitude. Turns out the emotional yin yang of empty nest is quite an oxymoron because so many contradictions describe a mother’s feelings.

We can start with the throwback, overused statement which defines sending our kids off into the world as bittersweet because blah blah and yada yada. But I came across several other oxymorons which have a bit more depth and mothering emotion strapped to their paradoxical back.

Since I swept out the last feather two years ago, your initial conclusion might label me as an amateur expert at this gig. More likely I’m an advanced beginner. Yes, I’ve already experienced how organized chaos morphs into loud stillness, but my emotional state can still move like a calm storm where I am certainly unsure if I’m cheerfully mournful or a mournful optimist. How about a cheerful pessimist?

But, getting back to you…

Some days you will experience sad joy which leads to a great depression when you remember the goodbye reception that preceded the noticeable absence of your children.

Waking up to a deafening silence could really be a loud whisper beckoning you to accept this transition as a constant variable which you are certainly unsure about.

Since there are no instruction manuals for moms entering this stage of life, you may be practicing an arrogant humility if you try to pretend you’re not a train wreck. Fair warning.

How to handle such a season of life is clear as mud which will wake you up in a cold sweat shivering in confident fear about your child’s future. Letting our kids go is not an easy task, in fact, I’m going to make an educated guess and say it’s actually quite difficult for most of us.

Do your best to practice convenient denial so as not to produce harmonious discord in your family as you prepare to give your beautiful child wings to fly. Hold on to the promise that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. But don’t feel bad if your knees still buckle.

That’s the beautifully painful aspect of being a mom.

In Strength and Denial, crazy Mommas –

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Shelby Spear

A self-described sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and love enthusiast, Shelby is a mom of 3 Millennials writing about motherhood and life from her empty nest. She is the co-author of the book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.") , and you can find her stories in print at Guideposts, around the web at sites like Her View From Home, For Every Mom, Parenting Teens & Tweens and on her blog shelbyspear.com.

There’s So Much I Didn’t Know About Having a Daughter

In: Motherhood
Mother and daughter hug

I started my motherhood journey as a boy mom. I knew the names of all the construction trucks, I could build a LEGO set in record time, and nothing said about a penis could ever shock me. I could play in the dirt, tie on a Superman cape, and have a lightsaber fight all before naptime. But when I was expecting again, I saw that sweet little face on the ultrasound, and I knew—even before the ultrasound tech made the announcement—that my days as solely a boy mom were about to come to an end. I was so excited to...

Keep Reading

Exclusively Pumping Makes You One Strong Mother

In: Motherhood
Breast pump with bottles, black-and-white photo

Dear exclusively pumping mama,  Oh, how I see you, sweet mama. (I’ve been you—twice now, as a matter of fact.)  I see you frustrated with your body and feeling like it’s failed you because you’re not able to nurse your baby. Maybe your baby is in the NICU and you feel robbed of this experience. Or maybe, due to other circumstances, you haven’t been able to make it work.  RELATED: I Exclusively Pumped for a Year—And My Baby and I Thrived I see you tirelessly getting up before the baby does in the middle of the night so you can...

Keep Reading

Yes, We Wanted a Big Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Big family silhouette

Baby number WHAT?!?! Okay, okay, I know having FIVE children in the modern world is a bit of an anomaly, but the responses we have gotten from sharing our joyful (to us!) news has been a bit over-the-top. You see, my husband and I always dreamt of a big family, verbally expressing four to five children as our ultimate number. After having three, I must say I had to do some convincing to keep going, as my husband felt our hands were pretty full. I do agree our hands were pretty full, but I still felt our hearts could handle...

Keep Reading

The Quiet Work You’re Doing Matters, Mama

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and two girls playing on bed

Mid-morning light spills through the kitchen window as I stand at the sink washing dishes.  “Mom, Caleb just punched me!” 3-year-old Aiden calls from the living room. “He took the remote right out of my hands!” Caleb contends. “I saw the whole thing happen,” their big sister interjects. “It was totally Caleb’s fault.  He started the whole thing.” “Mind your own business!” Caleb barks as he charges toward his sister with his fist in the air. It takes every ounce of restraint I can muster, but I manage not to get sucked into the yelling match happening in front of...

Keep Reading

How Much Longer Will I Watch Them Play?

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Two boys at indoor playground, color photo

As I sit here watching my two boys running around on the bright-colored foam mats, sliding down the bright red and green slides that end up in a ball pit full of giggles, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I will enjoy this sight. They’re both growing up so fast—T-shirts with their favorite characters have been replaced by plain colors.  Curtains with Paw Patrol now invite an “Eww, cringe!” reaction. Slowly their boy bedroom decor has been updated to reflect the cool gamers they so want to be. RELATED: He’s a Boy For Just a Little While Longer No...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Belong In the Baby Section Anymore

In: Motherhood

I don’t belong here anymore. The thought crept into my mind today as I stood in the baby section. I was there to grab a gift for an expecting friend, but as I looked around at the old familiar shelves, I was hit with a wave of emotion.  Because it’s true—I don’t belong here anymore. There was a time when this aisle was my most frequented on trips to Target. As a pregnant twentysomething with a growing belly, I would hold up outfit after outfit and wonder what our baby would look like. Who would he or she be? As...

Keep Reading

To the Parents Raising My Child’s Future Spouse

In: Faith, Motherhood
Little boy lying on car seat with puppy, color photo

Oh, hey there friend, you don’t know me yet or maybe you do, but at least for now neither of us know that our children will one day commit their lives to each other and by doing so forever knit our families together. One day, we will all sit in the front aisles of a church filled with scores of people who have influenced our babies, but none like us. No one else in that church will know the intentionality, love, and grace of God that it took to reach that day, but we will. The work you are doing...

Keep Reading

Loving Mom (Thanks, Amazon)

In: Grief, Living, Motherhood
Woman and mother smiling, color photo

I was online, searching old Amazon orders for a part we’d bought for our 1998 Buick Regal. The car was Mom’s. She’d given it up at 86 after I said her grandsons would be grateful to use it. She’d laughed with delight as Gabe, newly licensed, pulled away from her place in her Buick, heading home to California. It was a good car, but the original parts were wearing out. That’s why I scrolled through my orders, to see which window pulley assembly we’d purchased last time. As I scrolled, I was struck by all the gifts I’d ordered for...

Keep Reading

Supporting Your Teen through Freshman Year

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom and teen boy

Growing up I remember seeing Ms. Honey in the movie Matilda and thinking teaching must be a magical job if Ms. Honey could do it so effortlessly. This image of dancing with my students, heart-to-heart conversations, and the perfectly curated teacher outfit always stuck in my mind. When I decided to become a teacher, my original goal was to teach elementary. I wanted to be that driving force that helped those pudgy little hands learn how to write, sing at the top of their lungs about the seasons, and be there to help with scraped knees. Over the years I...

Keep Reading

Donna Kelce Is Living the Boy Mom Dream: Her Two Sons Will Face Off in the NFL’s Biggest Game

In: Living, Motherhood
Donna Kelce in split Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs jersey

How many millions of brothers have grown up playing football against each other in their backyards? It’s impossible to know, really—but if you had brothers or are raising boys, you’ve probably seen a few of those pick-up games yourself.  Sometimes, the little boys tossing around the pigskin grow up to realize the dream of playing in the NFL. In Donna Kelce’s case, that dream became a reality times two: son Jason Kelce plays center for the Philadelphia Eagles, and son Travis Kelce is a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. And in two weeks time, those two teams—and Donna’s...

Keep Reading