I really can't believe it's the end of another school year.
I measure my kids' growth not by birthdays, but by their progression in school, so this time of year is always a bittersweet time for me. I am so proud of them and the people they are becoming. By the end of the year, I'm so ready for them to be home and to have a break from the routine of homework and all.
But it's also a time when I come face-to-face with how fast they are growing. It's so cliché, that phrase, "They grow up so fast." But it's so. true.
Sometimes the reality of that cliché nearly takes my breath away. Sometimes it comes close to making me sick to my stomach, actually.
My children are close in age (all born within three years of each other). I love it. They are such good friends. Since we haven't been able to have more children due to my health, I try to just enjoy the unique fact that our children are all pretty close to the same stage of life, so that makes family activities really fun.
But guess what else it means? The empty nest thing will not be gradual. Even as I can't wait to see how they will continue in their path to becoming their own people (it's so fun watching them grow!), another part of me wants to scream: STOP! Slow down!
Each year, I think I savor, value, appreciate, understand motherhood more. While I know I still have lots of room to grow, I have been doing this long enough to see that there has been progress in my personal journey. I get it more and more. I'm less and less threatened by talks about the ideals surrounding motherhood, because I see that it's all a process, and the ideals are essential in the process. And anger at the ideals distract us from the real work and give the adversary power.
The Atonement works, people. It really does. And wow, if there is ever a place where the Atonement is needed, it's in the realm of parenthood. Growth is sometimes so imperceptible -- sometimes so much so that it makes me crazy -- but it is real. Grace is real. Walking by faith bears fruit.
Being a stay-at-home mom for me has been in large measure an act of faith. I am grateful I have the choice to do that, and realize not all women do have that choice. But you need to know that it's not necessarily been the natural choice for me.
But there is lots about seeking to be a follower of Christ that isn't natural. It's a process to learn to become like God. Just because we have a divine heritage and birthright, just because seeds of godliness are within us (and that is truth), doesn't mean that everything divine will come without effort and sacrifice. I think we sometimes forget that. I think women in particular forget that.
More and more, what motherhood means to me is finding more of the divine within me through obedience and sacrifice. No, better said, it's having God reveal more and more of the divine within me -- and in this role -- through His grace.
And every year, at the end of school, I get to reflect on all of that. It both pains me to realize how fast they are growing and how much I still need to grow, and also excites me to see how we are all growing up together.
I love being a mother.