This is a bizarre year for me. My oldest son is graduating (from high school AND college!) while my youngest son is only two months old. Inevitably, I’ve been reflecting on the fleeting years of motherhood and the principle of sowing and reaping.
Eighteen years ago Sam was born the week before Christmas at 29 weeks gestation. He was a hefty 3 pounds, 4 ounces. And the roller coaster of mothering a child began.
I will never forget the first time I held my son…three days after he was born. He was like a tiny china doll in my arms. The emotions were intense. I was in love. And I was scared.
What a grave responsibility. This upbringing of a human soul. I knew whether he lived or died, my life as I knew it…was over. I relished every new moment as I embarked on my new daily routine of driving 30 minutes to the hospital, sitting and rocking my treasure hour after hour, and then the long, sad leaving at the end of the day.
What a rush the day we brought him home, tiny, still fragile, on a breathing monitor. How we flew out of our beds at night when that alarm went off. How we breathed sighs of relief to see him still alive. Still here to cherish.
One year later we had such a celebration of life, and I was never happier. Motherhood was frightening and amazing all at the same time. And I knew it was a gift of mercy and love from the Creator. He actually entrusted ME with this fabulous child. I pinched myself many times that year…wondering if it were all just a sweet dream.
Sam’s head was growing exponentially. After many months of CAT scans and MRIs, our pediatric neurosurgeon recommended surgery to place a shunt. Hydrocephalus.
We prayed. What a shock to discover at the LAST appointment before the surgery that the fluid levels in his head were no longer rising, but rather falling slightly! No surgery needed! Diagnosis: Benign Macrocephaly. As it turned out, our big-headed son had a lot of brains working in that cranium of his!
Sam had a mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome. This made him a challenging child to raise, but it also made him SO interesting! He was talking fluently at age two, using vocabulary words WELL beyond his years. He didn’t always use them in the proper way, which made for many laughs.
He learned how to read at age 3, and has been a prolific reader ever since. He loved to dress up and act. We never knew “who” would be hanging around each day. Sometimes it was Obi-Wan Kenobi eating his cereal, and sometimes it was an ape reading his Bible.
What a mystery, this life. Fleeting…and yet holding the privilege of passing down, through the generations, a part of ourselves.
Sam ended up being Big Brother to eight more children. He has led the way with personality and finesse. He always considered himself the third parent. And, incidentally, he always considered himself smarter than the Saxon Math Answer Key Book.
Maybe he was. Sam finished high school when he was 16 so he could work toward his college degree. He will complete that degree this summer and has already launched his own media and design business. (He designed this blog as well as our family business website.)
We attended his college graduation last week, and as his tall, lanky body strolled across the stage, it struck me like a ton of bricks that this one is “over”. He is a bird taking flight. An arrow newly launched. My job with him is complete. The 18 years of sowing: over.
For all my work, all those years, I have reaped a man who belongs to God wholeheartedly.
But my sowing years are not over. Sam holds his baby brother, and I can now catch a glimpse of what I never could before. I can see, just a little, where all the laughter, tears, joy, fear, pain, exhaustion and hard work that still lies ahead…will lead to, by the grace and mercy of God.
This new “seeing” is good.
I’ll close with a few “Sammy quotes” from a journal I kept for him.
2/8/97~ I told Sam to do something, and then I asked, “Do you understand Mommy?” Sam looked at me with a patronizing smile and replied, “Oh Mom, I’m Sammy…not Mommy!”
3/30/97~ One day we were at the library, and Sam was sitting at a table playing puzzles next to a little girl. When I told Sam it was time to go, he got out of his chair and stood close to the little girl saying, “Goodbye! I have to go now!” She did not respond. She didn’t even look up.
Sam leaned closer. “GOODBYE, MY FRIEND!” Still, no response.
Sam walked casually over to me saying, “She is my best friend. She lives here at the library.”
5/29/97~ In the bathtub one day, Sam was complaining of a “wet nose”. When I explained to him that in swimming lessons he would learn to get used to a wet nose, he replied, “I don’t WANT to learn about wet noses. I don’t even want to TALK about it.” A little later, after some reflection, he added, “I don’t want the teacher to learn me about WET noses. Only dry ones.”
1/4/98~ It was raining outside and I said, “Look Sam! It’s raining!” Sam corrected me with, “No, Mom. It is just tinkling.”
8/5/98~Sam had to get 5 stitches in his forehead. When the doctor saw him, he said, “Wow. You have a lot of blood here.” Sam agred with great enthusiasm, “YUP! It IS a lot of blood. But NO GUTS!”
11/4/98~We had just made fresh bread and were eating lunch when we heard the side door to our house open and slam shut. It sounded like someone trying to get in, and Sam said, “I thought that was a ROBBER! He might see our bread, and then we’d have to MAKE MORE!”
1/21/99~ I came into his room one morning to see if he had gotten dressed yet. I found him sitting on his bed…still in pajamas…reading a magazine. I said, “Sam, I told you to get dressed.” Sam responded logically, “But Mom, you just don’t understand. I’m into books. I’m not really into clothes.”
8/26/99~ Sam was eating a treat from the Dairy Queen and couldn’t finish it. His Dad said, “Don’t you want the rest?”
Sam responded, “No. It tastes yucky. Like bugs in a cream sauce.”
His dad said, “Yum. That sounds delicious.”
Sam said, “Yeah. Maybe for a spider.”
9/23/99~ I was reading the passage from Proverbs about the man who drinks too much wine and what happens to him. When I finished, Sam said gravely, “Well! I won’t drink ANY alcohol drinks! I’ll just stick to my three glasses of juice per day!”
10/11/99~ I had been on bedrest with Sam’s baby brother and hadn’t put on any make up or fixed my hair in a long time. One day though, I had a Dr. appointment and we were going to Old Country Buffet for a rare outing. When I had finished getting ready, Sam said, “MOM!! You look GREAT! Everyone at Old Country Buffet will say, ‘How can ANYBODY be SO GOOD LOOKING here at Old Country Buffet?!’”
Sam: “I will probably not live for a whole century, right?”
Mom: “Probably not. But on the other hand, you WILL live forever in heaven!”
Sam: “Oh yeah! But for now, we’re still on the first hand.”
2/1/2001~ Sam was reading a book about mummies and how they were made. He said, “Mom! Did you know the Egyptians made mummy cats, dogs, crocodiles…and even mummy INSECTS! And did you know it takes 70 DAYS to make just ONE MUMMY! I’d say the mummy insects were a WASTE OF TIME!”
Samuel, may you, with the righteous, “flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Labanon. May you be planted in the house of the Lord. May you flourish in the courts of our God. May you still bear fruit in old age and be ever full of sap and green—to declare that the Lord is upright. He is my Rock.” (Psalm 92)