franciscanshannie Copyright 2015 Sheri Wohlfert. All rights reserved.

Children too are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Psalm 127:3

When I was a little girl I had a favorite story my mom would read to me. She could read about three quarters of the story and then I would shut the book and not let her finish it. It was right at the part where the little boy was about to cross the river but he was unaware that waiting on the other side of the river was a Bobcat, crouched and ready to pounce on him. It took a very long time to let her finish that story because I was afraid of what would happen to the little boy. I wanted to believe he would be ok and the story would end happily but I was too afraid to peek ahead and see. It was easier to enjoy the story with my own ending in mind. I could imagine the story any way I pleased and I liked it best that way. Now mind you, I was only a little girl and I didn’t realize that children’s literature wouldn’t have a little boy get devoured by a hungry Bobcat on page 17 but my logic said, I like it to turn out exactly the way I picture it…no risk…no gamble…no chances. When I got a little older I remember my mom telling me that you never know what happens in the next chapter unless you turn the page. You may like it just the way it is but the odds are good that it will get even better; you just don’t know unless you turn the page. She was exactly right! I would have to add to that theory a bit though and point out that even after you turn the page to the next chapter you might not like the first few pages very much but stick with it because odds are good that it will get better.

The Good Lord popped the sweet story-reading memory into my mind as we were driving home from Ohio late Friday night. We had just left Shannon six hours away at Franciscan University and I couldn’t quite seem to turn off my tears. I heard all the advice run through my head; she will be fine, she is ready to spread her wings, you wouldn’t want her living in your basement when she’s 30, you raised her to be strong and independent--now let her practice what she’s learned, it’s only six hours away, she’ll be home at Christmas, Franciscan is passionately Catholic and she will grow so much as a daughter of God, she will be surrounded by Priests, Sisters and people of faith, no parent could ask for more. I repeated it all to myself dozens of times but I just couldn’t get my heart to buy into the thoughts my mind was thinking. Growing up is such a logical process. You are born, you get older, you set out on your own and the cycle repeats. Seems so simple doesn’t it…but my heart and my teary eyes just weren’t buying it!

As I type this post it’s been about 48 hours since I’ve seen that sunny smile and heard that sweet voice and most of them have been spent blinking back tears but in those hours, here’s what I’ve discovered. It will get easier; but probably not before it gets really hard though! I suppose the best things in life, the God things in life are like that…tough but necessary. I’ve discovered that it’s only partly about her getting older, I am too, and realizing that I’m not the mother of a kindergartner but of a college freshman means I’ve changed and that reality requires some pondering. I suppose God didn’t intend for any of us to stay the same year after year; all those changes are most often the things that lead us directly to him because change is hard and we need his help. After about the 400th time of asking myself “where has the time gone?” I decided to actually answer that question and I kind of liked the answer. It made me realize that the time that passed so quickly was jam packed with lots of amazing stuff. It didn’t just pass by or get stolen; it was lived and thinking back on all my years as a mamma was a joyful experience. Good parents work with God and raise their children, they don’t just watch them grow up and all that “raising” creates some great memories. I found myself drifting off in thought about some of the stuff we packed into those years that slipped past and I pondered some of the things I think we did right and I laughed at lots of the mistakes we made as parents.

It was time for us to move on to the next chapter, but just like that favorite story my mom used to read, sometimes it’s hard to turn the next page. I can tell you for certain that I am NOT enjoying the first couple pages of this new chapter but I know it will get better! I think back to that childhood book and I realize how much time I wasted wanting to keep things just the way I knew and wanted them to be. The first time I let mom finished the whole story I realized I’d been missing out. Parents everywhere are sending babies off to kindergarten, high school and college and each one of us shares that same ache in the pit of our stomach and that same desire to freeze time; that’s because we have loved well the gift of our children and that’s a good thing. My heart feels a bit more settled when I remind myself that God, the masterful planner has great work to reveal; not just in Shannon’s life but in mine as well. He has a plan for Dave and me as we try to figure out what we’ll do with our time now that the last little Wohlfert is off on her own. God is so smart; I’m sure he’s smiling at all us weepy parents thinking; oh just wait to see the goodness I have for you and those children that I love even more than you do!

A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer considering the changes that are hard to make. Ask God, your Loving Father to help you turn those pages and see the story he has written for you.

Blessings on your day!

Copyright 2015 Sheri Wohlfert
Image copyright 2015Sheri Wohlfert. All rights reserved.