It's the night before Christmas and all through the house, there's not a creature stirring. All's quiet at home, no sound to be heard. Not even the excitement of a little boy who won't go to bed as he anxiously awaits the dawn of Christmas. That's because he's not here. Not tonight. It's quiet. Too quiet. I'm painfully aware of his absence on this night, moreso than other nights.
I set out cookies for Santa. I promised him I would. I left Jokey by the plate and I included his photo. Through the power of technology and the blessing of Facetime, I showed him the display and assured him Santa would still bring gifts, along with the rest of the family, even if he wasn't here tonight. There's a certain magic of kids bounding out of bed to race downstairs to see the presents under the tree. Somehow I've come to peace with the fact that our presents will be opened later in the day. They're just as much a surprise in the afternoon as they are in the morning.
Please don't feel sorry for me. Please don't judge. I'm sharing a very real experience. Wednesday is the worst day of my week. Every week. Not because it's "hump day," whatever that means, but because it's the day I drop him off at school but I do not pick him up. It's called shared custody and it's a reality I've had to learn to deal with. Some days hurt more than others. NEVER does a day go by when he's not constantly in my thoughts and prayers. And truly, if I've learned anything, I've learned how to pray for him. I pray so much more for him, much more diligently, especially when he's not with me. There's a certain appreciation of how precious the time is when he is present. I find that on days when my arms are empty, my prayers are fuller, more frequent. When the sound of his sweet high pitched voice may not be echoing through the halls of our home, the whispers of a mother's prayers can be heard soaring toward heaven. On nights I may not get to tuck him into bed, before I lay my head down to sleep I pray The Lord his soul to keep. I may not be there to give him his bath, but I most certainly am bathing him in prayer.
I am always his mother, even if he's not with me. So the real lesson I'm learning is what God requires of me as his mother. The 'letting go' part. The part where I have to surrender him....all the days of his life. I've shared it before, just not in this realm. Tonight I am reminded that one day he'll be grown, he'll have a family of his own, and he may not always come home for Christmas. None of that stops me from being his mother. None of that changes my privilege to pray for him. None of that takes away my responsibility of loving and caring for him, wherever he is, whatever he does.
Please know I'm not sad. I have peace and strength from The Lord knowing Whose care he is truly in. Just don't take for granted the chance to tuck your babies into bed. Don't miss the magic of the children bounding out of bed tomorrow. Don't forget the precious moments we waste doing futile things when right before our very eyes our children are growing up. With each passing day, they're one day closer to being on their own. And even when that happens, they'll still be your babies.
Merry Christmas everyone. Wherever you are.