When I was pregnant with my second child, I didn’t know she was going to be my last child. I don’t know why, I just assumed we would have three. Or four. So, when the doctor saw my blood pressure two weeks before her due date and said, “Um, you’re gonna’ have a baby today” I immediately went into planning mode. Call the husband. Alert the grandparents. Drive swiftly and safely from the doctor’s office to the hospital because, we have a task to get done here people! We need to produce a human, stat!
Cue several weeks later as I held that baby girl and started to get the first inkling that maybe this was the last time. The last time I would be pregnant. The last time we would plan for a new person into our lives. And particularly, the last time I would know what it feels like to be just me and her — and I got so sad.
I wasn’t especially sad about not having more kids. And, I wasn’t sad about this being my last baby. (I am SO not a baby person.) But, I was sad about how it all ended. Because I didn’t end it intentionally. That’s what really broke me.
For weeks to come, I kept thinking about driving so quickly to that hospital parking lot. How I rushed about, grabbing my wallet, phone, and hopping out of the car. How I hustled into my gown, efficiently offering all my insurance cards and medical information. I mean, I got the job done. But, I totally and completely forgot to be present in what was happening.
“Thirty seconds” I kept telling myself as I rocked her. If I had just taken thirty seconds in that parking lot to pause, breathe, place my hands on my belly and say, “Here we go, baby girl. I love you. And, I have loved our time together.” That’s all it would have taken.
Fast-forward five years and I’m facing that old temptation again. That baby girl is now headed to kindergarten and I see it coming. The getting dressed. The fixing hair. The making sure we have all the supplies and the 8:00am arrival time. And me, having efficiently checked all the boxes and driving away in tears, “Thirty seconds.” If I had just taken thirty seconds.
Well, this is the beauty of life my friends. We are adaptable, blessed with the ability to allow our past behavior to inform, and improve, our future behavior. The way I rushed through my baby girl’s birth is not a loss. Instead, it is the “gift of sadness” that teaches me not to rush like that again. It is this sadness that has taught me how to end things better.
This is my message to all of you who are coming up on the end of a thing. (Which is, of course, always the beginning of another thing.) Whether your baby is going off to kindergarten, starting their senior year, or you are simply transitioning out of corona-summer-weirdness, do it intentionally.
It doesn’t need to take long. It doesn’t have to be a ceremony or party. Ending well is simply a space you create to offer homage to the thing that was, and give permission to the thing that will be. As you wake. In the car. In the parking lot before the tasks of the day begin. A practice that honors each season of life so we don’t get stuck in one, and gives us the gift of moving into the next.
My baby girl. My last that I did not know would be my last. This time we are going to pause, together. I will hold you like I should have all those years ago and we will say thank you for these five years together. We will close this chapter intentionally, and we will open the next together. It has been my privilege and honor to be your Mom. On to the next.
*If this post about intentional transitions has resonated with you, please know that I have recently published a free back-to-school devotional that is available for download right here on my website. Please share this post and/or this offer with anyone you think may be blessed by this way to enter the 2020 school year. Click here for your free copy.
4 thoughts on “A Practice for Ending Well, From a Mom Who Didn’t”
Thank you for your thoughts, Anne. We are in our last few days before moving to Kenya and there are many things on the “to-do” list. I am tempted to just push through the tasks and move on – partly because that is so much easier than saying “goodbye” even if it is just for now. Thank you for the reminder to be present in the now that will allow us to leave well and start the next phase better.
Oh Rhonda, yes! That is hard. I agree, I think that is exactly what we do sometimes. It’s easier to check boxes than to check in with our emotions. Thank you for sharing. All the best blessings and safety on your move to Kenya!
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