I could hear it coming. The familiar vroom, then the squeaky breaks as the bus rolled to a stop, and finally a sharp clank. Peaking out the window, I watched children rush into its yellow belly, fearing the slow might get left behind.
Another loud clank and the doors were shut tight. Then the big yellow bus raced off to its next stop. I’ve seen that yellow school bus a hundred times before, but this year is different, because my little Audrey is 5.
Five years ago, I gave birth to an angel and a new me. It all started with a urine-induced line, on a little plastic test. What a lackluster way to announce the arrival of a princess. Like the immature girl I was, I cried. It was too soon. I’d just married, was still working on a degree and had ambitions of a successful career. But Audrey had arrived!
I am ashamed to say it, but I cried again when I found out I wasn’t having a boy. It was all planned out; first a boy and then a girl. Luckily, God knew what I really wanted and sent my Audrey, anyway.
November 3, 2007, I experienced pain for the first time. 28 hours of pain! The pain was overtaken by a stronger feeling of fear. Real fear. The fear of losing something your instincts tell you is a 100 times more valuable than yourself.
Though it is mostly a blur, I remember looking up and seeing the heart monitoring screen go flat. An alarm sounded and nurses poured into the room. Was I losing my baby?! A nurse attached a head monitor and I bawled as the thump, thump, thump began to pulsate through the room again.
When I first held Audrey, I got to see a rare glimpse of emotion in my husband’s eyes. My goodness, she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It was love at first sight, but not the way I used to think of love. It was unconditional love – love just because.
My faith and marriage also grew. I thought, dear God this is how Jesus feels about me. And suddenly Jesus’ death on the cross made sense. I looked at my husband and knew that if I could treat him with a drop of this new-found love, our marriage could not fail. Just as love would not allow me to divorce my baby girl, unconditional love would tie me to my husband forever!
While my labor and delivery are a blur, the past five years are even more so. Where did they go? I can only see clips now.
Audrey napping in her crib. She just rolled over! She took her first step! There was her first “mama” that still echoes in my mind from time to time. Her first temper-tantrum, she threw herself backwards, landed on her head and then bawled because she hurt herself. Her first spanking really was more painful for me, but to hear her say “saw-wee” and her precious hug was medicine to my soul.
Audrey is very grown now. She takes care of our chickens, sells her eggs and manages our gardens. She can read and write, and is beginning multiplication. She can find countries on a map I didn’t know existed.
She’s no longer my baby girl, but my babysitter, taking care of her little brother and sister when mommy has chores to do. She can also cook scrambled eggs and make oatmeal. Yes, she is very grown up, but it doesn’t mean she needs her mommy any less. The world says she ready for kindergarten, but I’m simply not ready to let go.
I have changed a lot in 5 years. Degrees and careers seem like futile pursuits. All the money in the world isn’t worth my daughter’s pinky toe. What sense of accomplishment could a CEO have that I don’t receive daily just watching my Audrey grow into a lady? And what greater purpose could there be in my life, than raising my children in the Lord? That is why, as for me and my household, we will homeschool!