I couldn't tell if the clouds were sympathetic or mocking my melancholy. Were the mist and rain consoling me? They were crying too? So sad, I was having a miserable performance and giving gloomy clouds and dewy rain supporting roles.
It hadn't rained all summer but it did today. On our very last day of summer the clouds were a mild shade of gray but thick enough to cover the sun and leave a pale, beige dot in the center. A light mist freckled my arms. Any other day the moisture would almost be as refreshing as the spray of one of my son's cannonballs. But not today. The clouds and the mist were of no comfort.
But then in an instant - it didn't even seem like the same day - the sky turned into a brilliant blue - almost artificial. The clouds were puffs of cotton and blinding white that they had a cartoon quality. The sun chased the shadows away and illuminated the pool deck making the water sparkle and dance.
I felt happy for a moment. I soaked up the sunshine and thought how blessed I was to be sitting here by the pool - watching my children swim. I thanked God for this time with them. This last day of summer.
And just as soon as it arrived, the sun would disappear. The clouds' shade so suddenly stretched across the pool it made everyone look up. What were they expecting to see?? Space ship? Godzilla? What else beside the clouds would cover the sun so quickly? My irritation with the pool goers was irrational but I was irritable. I don't want summer to end.
"Waaaaaait," my son wailed in a voice much younger than he is, "My flip has flopped." My daughter and I stopped to watch him scooch his big toe back into position.
I couldn't help but laugh. I smiled at my children even though I wanted to cry.
Life would not allow me to mourn this day.
This last day of summer.
The selfish mom in me does not want to share my kids. I love every bit of their bright personalities. I admire their sharp minds and clever thoughts on life, their gentleness with animals, their uncanny ability to recognize quickly what's right and what is unjust. Their smiles, their laugh, the way they can lift their eyebrows and jut out their chin - dancing their eyes and making me melt. I love how their face seems to glow from the inside out when they see a baby. I love watching their lids get heavy when they're sleepy. I could count their lashes and never find the end. I love how it feels when they hug me - breathing in the sweet scent of their hair - (or not) - they're kids after all. I love having lunch with them and listening to them name the birds as they come to the feeder outside our kitchen. Chickadee, Cardinal, Hummingbird...they already know Finch. I'm going to miss the gulp sound my son makes when he swallows even though I've told him to stop. And I'm going to miss the clinking of ice in my daughter's glass even though - for the love of everything holy - I can't understand why she is still trying to get a sip from only ice cubes. I love them - deeper than anything else I've ever experienced - and I'm going to have to share them with school.
But the world needs my kids. And yours too. Because the world needs kids who are loved without question so they can learn to love unconditionally. The world needs the bright and cheerful because life isn't always fair, but they can be a light for others. The world needs smart and thoughtful because intelligence means nothing without compassion. The world needs their wit and laughter because sadness will need its mate and you can never truly appreciate all the good times without holding hands with sorrow. The world needs my kids and yours. It would be a shame to keep all of their goodness and light from society because the world needs it so much.
God gave me the privilege of being their mother and as impossible as it seems, I have to let them pass through me to live the life that God created them to be. I can be one of their most trusted guides, but only The Creator knows their steps. Once we've taught them what our limited knowledge allows, we must send them out to experience all the good the world has to offer, and prepare them (as best we can) for the troubles they'll have to survive and be the better for it.
I know their feelings will get hurt.
Send them anyway.
Their hearts will be broken.
Send them anyway.
They'll be disappointed in a test.
Send them anyway.
They'll see things they aren't ready to see.
Send them anyway.
Because if you won't risk heartbreak and sadness - you'll miss some of the best parts like:
They might discover a deep friendship that will last their lifetime.
They'll be there to comfort someone who's hurting and change the course of their life
They'll exceed their expectations on a grueling test and gain confidence in themselves.
They'll show compassion when others might not.
The world needs our kids. We have to let them go with humble heart but confident spirit. The world needs leaders, but they also need the musicians, the poets, the creatives. We need the organizers and the dreamers. Our world needs the critical thinkers and the analyzers to question status quo and suggest alternatives. We need the mathematicians but we also need the caregivers and the empaths.
My two birds will fly out of my world and into yours. And your children might cross paths with us. Let's put out our best - but most honest selves into this world and know that everyone was once a child with the whole big world staring down at them.
Let them go.
Send them with love.