Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

The dog is barking his head off, announcing the arrival of either UPS or Amazon Prime, I can’t be sure. We’ve ordered so much lately—groceries, greeting cards, gobs of hand sanitizer. Honestly, I’ve lost track of what’s arriving when. After four months of panic buying, I think I’ve finally broken my husband’s meticulous computer tracking system, a spreadsheet that supposedly keeps us within budget.

“It’s from Bed Bath & Beyond,” my daughter, a rising college freshman, opens the latest delivery—a mattress pad for her dorm room. “Twin extra-long,” she says, waving a covering that promises protection and comfort.

My chest hitches. Protection from all that’s out there? Really?

It’s not like I don’t know the drill, this stockpiling of college essentials. Shower caddy, surge protector, sheet set. Command hooks, Keurig, comforter. Three years ago my eldest, now a college senior, flew the coop. I should be calm, confident. But this time feels different.

In T-minus a few weeks, both my girls will pack up, mask up, and enter the virus-laden world I’ve tried so hard to protect them from.

It feels wrong to admit this, but for me, the past few months have been a sort of comfortable cocoon, my eldest tucked in her bedroom finishing her junior year of college online, her sister Zooming her way through virtual classes and home AP exams. It’s been a time of long, lazy breakfasts, the kitchen table laden with thick slices of French toast and freshly-cut strawberries. A time of barbecues, board games, and badly-played Badminton. A time of memorable milestones: A drive-in movie theater graduation and a 21st birthday celebration with my husband, the backyard bartender, popping the cork.

RELATED: There Will Always Be Room For You At Home

Nestled in my bubble, I’ve kept the news off (mostly), and the girls home (always). There’s been the occasional socially-distanced visit with Grandma, but other than a singular friend visiting for a driveway chat or a bike ride through the neighborhood, my girls have sheltered at home since March.

It’s been a privilege and a gift, this time to reconnect.

Over games of Sequence and Uno I’ve rediscovered my eldest’s keen wit and intellect. During long walks, I’ve savored my younger daughter’s truly remarkable resilience and optimism despite missing prom, parties, and the pomp and circumstance of a traditional high school graduation.

And yes, there’s been the requisite quarantine baking. Many batches of ginger cookies offered a holiday feel, a sense that the girls would be home forever, laughing as they rolled fragrant dough in bowls of sugar. But I’ll never forget my apple pie attempt. The girls pretended to enjoy it, but the crust tasted like cement. Looking back on it, I wonder if the stiff topping didn’t do a good job of holding everything in place. Keeping the sweetness where it belonged. Safe. Inside.

RELATED: Dear Big Kids, I’m Grateful For This Time But I Wish We Could Go Back To Normal

I know all this cocooning must inevitably come to an end. The universities are on go-ahead mode and I’m like a mother robin, flitting across the web in search of supplies for my brood. Masks, check. Sanitizers, check. Thermometer, check. My mantra? Think positive. There will be testing, distancing, hand washing. My girls are smart. They’ll do the right thing. But what if other kids don’t?

My head is spinning, the clock ticking. But I still have a few precious weeks.

Plenty of time for backyard Badminton and front yard Frisbee. Time for s’mores on the deck and Just Dance in the living room. Time for pancakes with bacon, extra whipped cream on everything.

A few weeks from now, if you find a middle-aged mom sitting on her front steps, college t-shirt on, a wistful look on her face, do her a favor.

Tell her, because she’ll need to hear it, that her girls will be OK.

This article originally appeared on Medium

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

Stefanie Wass

Stefanie Wass’ essays have been published in the Christian Science Monitor, LA Times, Seattle Times, The Writer, Cleveland Magazine, Akron Beacon Journal, This I Believe, Cup of Comfort, and 16 Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. Her fiction credits include a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and a finalist placement in the National Association of Elementary School Principals Book of the Year Contest. She is currently working on a middle-grade novel for young readers.

There’s a Little Less of You Here Each Day

In: Grief, Grown Children
Elderly man and younger woman's arms around his neck

I’m sitting here on the front porch, and I’m sobbing. I’m finally grieving. I’ve finally reached the place where my heart knows what my brain has known for years. I am now dreaming of the day we meet again in Heaven, Dad, and you look at me and I will see in your eyes that you know it’s me: your daughter. I won’t be “the woman who comes by every day to our house” as you described me to Mom the other day. And this sucks. This early onset Alzheimer’s has stolen a brilliant mind. It’s stolen my mother’s dear...

Keep Reading

Our College Visit Disaster: What You Should Learn from My Mistakes

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Mom and teen daughter selfie, color photo

With a song in my heart, I got in the car to drive my daughter to our first college visit.  We drove two hours to a school nestled in the mountains. It was a state school, not too big, not too small.  She knew plenty of alumni from her high school who attended there, and I was convinced it was going to be the perfect fit. We pulled up to the student center, and I jumped out of the car. I glanced around for her and realized she was still sitting in the car.  “Mom, I’m not getting out. I ...

Keep Reading

Everything I Know About Motherhood, I Learned from My Mom

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother and daughter walking down snowy path, color photo

I lay in a hospital bed, and the doctor placed my brand-new son into my arms. As I held him close and stared in wonder at this tiny new life, the gravity of being totally responsible for another person settled in with an enormous weight. I could hear my mom’s voice in my mind, “Support the head, hold him close, let him feel you breathe.” Words from my youth when she taught me how to comfort my crying baby cousin. The first lesson I had in taking care of a baby. When I brought my son home from the hospital,...

Keep Reading

I’ll Send You off with a Million Prayers

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Teen walking down sidewalk with suitcase, color photo

I think one of the hardest things about launching your big kids is wondering what baggage they will take with them. Did I give them enough for what comes next? Enough guidance? Enough wisdom Enough confidence and encouragement? Or will they end up carrying the weight of all of my mistakes? My exhaustion? My insecurities? My misplaced fears? What will they hold on to and what will they toss aside as they make room for new experiences, new people, new dreams? RELATED: My Mama Heart Breaks a Little Every Time You Go What lessons will they remember? What moments will...

Keep Reading

Dear Future Daughter-in-Law, I Hope We’ll Be Close

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Wedding preparation buttoning up dress

Dear future daughter-in-law, My son loves you enough to want to spend the rest of his life with you. That’s a big deal. But I hope you and I can have a relationship too. While I think he’s pretty terrific, I want to know all about you and to have a relationship of our own. I know you are more than his significant other—our relationship may be because of him, but it can also be separate from him. Stop trying so hard. Just be yourself, the woman my son fell in love with. I don’t want you to try to...

Keep Reading

My Mom Made It Look So Easy

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mom twirling little girl silhouette

I assumed I’d have turnkey kids. In my mind, I was a turnkey kid. I survived the toddler stage, complied at school, and learned how to earn favor from decision-makers that nodded in approval when I was developing on par.  From my perspective, parenting didn’t seem tricky. As easy as 1-2-3.  1. You have the kids. 2. You love the kids. 3. You send the kids to school where they learn life and social skills. This naivety followed me for an embarrassing number of years. I can do this, I thought. I can have kids, love them well, show them...

Keep Reading

Grandma’s Christmas Angels

In: Grown Children, Living
Little girl and grandma playing piano

My grandmother had quite a collection of Christmas angels. They were all different shapes and sizes. Some were plastic and some were very fragile—she must have had hundreds of them. Every Christmas, she would bring them out of storage from the attic and artistically design her living room to showcase each of them. The living room was always adorned with the Christmas spirit from floor to ceiling. Every Sunday in the month of December after church, she would always have an open door policy for people to walk through the display of angels. She would greet family and friends with hot...

Keep Reading

It’s Lonely As the Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother

In: Grown Children, Living, Motherhood
Stressed woman on beach

You hear a lot about being mothered during your mothering season . . .  Calling your mom throughout the day to share your ups and downs.  Calling to hear a soothing voice to get you through your child’s tantrums.   Calling to ask your mom to come with you to doctor’s appointments you’re nervous about. You hear about how you now understand what your mom went through raising you as you’re raising your littles. But you don’t hear about the pain a girl feels who longs for a bond with her own mother.  You hear about people inviting their moms...

Keep Reading

She Wore Caesars Woman and It Smelled Like Love

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman with two children, color photo

They say the brain rewires itself to accommodate for losing one or more senses. A blind person develops great hearing, a deaf person great sight. Neither deaf nor blind, I have some loss of both. The result: a finely tuned sense of smell that intertwines with my memories and emotions. The aroma of cut grass transports me to summer. Cigarette smoke in the bathroom reminds me of my abusive grandfather. Loves Baby Soft powder scent embodies the year 1987. The pages of a book smell of escape. My grandmother’s perfume exudes love. Grandma Darleen shined like a beacon in an...

Keep Reading

When Mom Died, We Had Tea

In: Grief, Grown Children, Living
Table set as a tea party with framed picture of a woman, color photo

My mom was never, ever without a cup of Lipton’s tea. Like a dear friend, it held her hand, kept her warm, provided comfort. She boiled water in her navy-speckled kettle, then poured it into a cup and, completely ignoring the recommended four-minute steep instructions, immediately lifted it to her lips. It always mystified me how her mouth didn’t suffer third-degree burns. Mom’s penchant for thriftiness compelled her to use the same tea bag multiple times; only when it disintegrated and leaf particles floated to the surface did she accept defeat and reach for a fresh yellow packet. RELATED: Moments...

Keep Reading