I just took William to his first day of preschool. Blink.
Yesterday, he began his last year of high school. Blink. Blink.
And the whole thing went exactly like they said.
When I gave birth to my baby, they told me to take it all in because the days would go fast, and I nodded. When I wondered if he’d ever sleep through the night, they warned me not to wish away one day. I thought I understood.
Today, everything in me wants to yell, Would the whole, wide world please stop talking to me about college? Don’t you know that my boy just started preschool?! And while you’re at it, would you all stop rushing me along? I’m just about to figure out how to be his mom.
But here we are. It’s William’s senior year.
For the record, every smart person who admonished me with a sassy, Oh, honey, he’ll be grown before you know it, was right. They were so dang right. And this very minute, it’s awful how completely right they still are. I have officially decided to never say that to anybody, ever. When you cannot change the length of one day, it kills you to be reminded, over and over, of how it’s all gonna be gone before you know it. Then, when they’re right, and the years are gone, you’re mad at everybody who ever said it.
My first 18 years on this earth lasted an eternity. I was there. I lived them. And I can still testify to the truth of it. Growing up took for-ev-er. When the first 18 years feel like an eternity, a mom cannot anticipate what will happen on the day her baby takes his first breath. I’ll tell you what happened. When my son was born, his first breath turned science on its head and blew up every space-time theory I memorized in physics.
Scholars might define time as the continued progression of existence and events in apparently irreversible succession. Then mathematicians would add that when you use the same interval (one year) to measure the same progression (the earth’s trip around the sun), the answer will always be the same. One year is one lap around the solar system, is four seasons, is twelve months, is 365ish days. When our boys become 18, they will have circled the same sun, and celebrated on the same day, the same number of times. The time that measures their years is all the same, scientifically speaking.
Moms with seniors in high school know all that gobbledygook is a big, fat lie.
Something happens the day they are born that quantum physics cannot explain. It’s a factor for which science has no measure. When a mother falls in love with her child, equations can no longer compute the length of days. The earth may circle the sun at exactly the same pace, but when days have been wrapped in a mother’s love, time is never measured the same. And this is the thing no one tells you.
To love a child changes everything. Every. Single. Thing.
All the science breaks down in the light of a mother’s love. Theories get rewritten. Logic is ruined. And time—well, when a mother loves a child, the time we have will never be enough.
If you’re not there yet, one of those days will finally be the first day of your son’s senior year. On that day, here’s what I want you to do.
Make sure you walk him outside where you can take his smirky first-day-of-school picture. Stand there and smile while he runs back into the house for things he’s forgotten. The years have taught you well and now it’s fun to know what’s coming. Watch him get all that stuff into his car, readjust his seat, and then take way too long to find just the right back-to-school music. Now wave like crazy as backs his car down the drive and then turns it toward the most exciting year he’s ever known. This is a good day, I promise. You’ve worked like a mad woman to keep that boy alive and get him safely here. It’s a really good day.
When you’re back in the house, I want you to take a few quiet minutes to count it all up. The years. The days. The adventures. The tears. Before you leave the quiet, I want you to factor this equation. Add these things together:
All his years
+ all that you’ve given
+ all the places
+ all the people
+ every obstacle
+ every victory
I can tell you in advance, the sum total of your memories will not equal anything close to eighteen years. The math falls apart every time. You see, God gives moms a greater gift with an equation that usually goes like this:
(Your son’s days) + (all your memories) x (the power of a mother’s love) = a blink.
If you count every one of his days until they are done and the sum total of it all is a blink, get down on your hands and knees and praise the One who entrusted that boy to your love. God has given you a beautiful gift.
It’s the kind of gift that makes me wonder…When a mother’s love counts the days, is that the tiniest foreshadowing of what is yet to be? Maybe when we are in the presence of God’s love, trying to count eternity by years will require another kind of calculation altogether.
A hymn writer seemed to be thinking about that very thing when he wrote, “My soul will sing your praise unending, ten thousand years and then forevermore.” Just maybe it was God’s plan all along. Maybe, when we have known a mother’s love for her child, we have tasted the great love of heaven.
So yes, I will never again say to anyone, That baby will be grown and gone before you know it. When I see a sweet mama holding her new baby, I think what I’m supposed to say is this:
I pray God does for you what he did for me. I hope when your boy is grown and the years have gone by, all those days feel to you like a blink. I’ve learned that the only way a length of years can ever equal a blink is when they have been lived in the presence of indescribable love.
Oh mama, I hope you blink.
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.