A Sentimental Journey

I’m not the type of girl who misses out on “moments.” In fact, my extreme levels of sentimentality cause me to do quite the opposite…

When I was a student at the University of Oklahoma, the other members of the Baptist Student Union seemed to fit right in, going on extended mission trips, seamlessly blending in with the campus ministry and the local church, and then there was I, standing out like a great big sore thumb, going home every weekend to spend time with my parents and attend the church I had been a part of since I entered this world.

People, even members of my church, just could not understand why a college girl was so eager to return to the nest every 5 or 6 days! It was preposterous. My only explanation was lost on most and appreciated by few: I just wanted that time to last forever…me, Momma, Daddy…rocking on the back porch, sharing great meals together, watching movies, worshiping together every Sunday morning with a group of people who were bound to me by the blood of Christ and by a lifetime of memories. I instinctively knew that those days of sweet and simple country living with two of the greatest people who’ve ever walked the planet, and with a congregation who knew and loved me from my first days, would not last forever. My heart was there, and unaccustomed to living without it, I followed it home down those familiar roads week after week after week.

Likewise, the late Sunday afternoon when Chris opened the car door for me to accompany him on our honeymoon, the late Sunday afternoon when I turned around to look at the faces of the people I held most dear in the world ~ my Daddy, Momma, my brothers and their wives, my beloved niece, my Grandmother, my Great-grandmother, and the handful of aunts, uncles and cousins who lingered to see us off the day after our wedding ~ is a late Sunday afternoon that is branded upon my memory as deeply and as tangibly as any memory could be. How excited I was to go on my first adventure as Mrs. Gore!…but it seemed as if my childhood, my innocence, and everything that was familiar up until that point was waving at me, the only home I’d ever known their backdrop, waiting for me to say “goodbye!”. I waved back, knowing instinctively that I was in the middle of a very big moment, and the significance of it caused tears to run down my face all the way to County Line Road, even as my heart was fluttering with excitement.

But the day…oh! the day…that I brought my first baby home…instinctively, I knew that life, while sweet before, had just multiplied, and with it the love in my heart. I didn’t have to learn this one from my senior adult friends, I knew it, from the very beginning, that these moments would pass too quickly by. Thus, choosing to stay at home with my little boy was not an option, nor is it one today.

And so home is where I stayed, where I closely watched as Gideon grew, minute by minute by minute by minute by minute…

I’ve talked about the difficulties of that first year, but they were a dim candle next to the joys I experienced in our quiet little house in the woods.

There, in the moments and days of 2007, I relished holding my baby through every nap, rocking and singing him to sleep for hours, playing the days away, watching and memorizing each Little Bear episode known to man, and cataloging every delightful moment of his growth with wonder and gratitude. I was next to him as he discovered the world, as he found his voice, as he raised himself off of his back, to his belly, to his knees, finally standing, walking, and soon running on sturdy toddler legs. Pick a day, any day, and you would find me right beside him. And so I’m baffled…

…where did his baby legs go?!…

…When did he stop replacing “s” sounds with the letter “h”?…

…How long has he been singing “Bushel and a Peck” with me instead of just listening to me?…

…When did his hands on my cheek start feeling more like the hands of a little boy and less like the hands of a baby?…

…I was there! I was watching…and still, somehow, I managed to miss it.

I am determined that I will not be the parent who says on graduation day, “I wish I had cherished the time more” or “Why was I so determined to have this and that and that other thing and miss out on the sweetest years in life?” Those kinds of statements kind of irk me, because if people would just listen to their senior adult friends, they wouldn’t have such heartbreaking regrets. (!!!)

No, “cherishing” has never been much of a problem for me, nor, by the grace of God, do I ever see it being one…but I can already tell that even if I sit on my kids and stare at them from sunup to sundown, these days of magic will tiptoe past me, and my little birdies will fly from my nest before I’ve even realized they’ve sprouted wings.

But maybe…just maybe…they’ll have their Mother’s heart and come home every weekend.

I kiss you and kiss you, with arms ’round my own,

Ah, how shall I miss you, when, dear, you have grown.

William Butler Yeats

2 thoughts on “A Sentimental Journey

  1. Such a sweet entry Lesley. It even brought a tear to my eye as I read. I am staying home with Alex and while things can be tough from time to time as my Mom and Dad and siblings are miles and miles away and Keith is off training to deploy yet again, I am oh so grateful for my time with him. I only wish that my husband didn’t have to miss out on so much. Thank you again for your words.

    • Kalie, I am humbled by your words. For anyone reading this, Kalie’s husband is one of our brave servicemen and she, too, serves our country with her community involvement and dedication to her husband and his work, leaving home and family, making frequent moves, and caring for their beautiful baby boy alone during her husband’s long deployments. We, as a country, are indebted to both of them, and I am so proud to call her my friend. Kalie, we are lifting you up to God as you live a life that many of us cannot imagine! It is easy for me to be home with my kids with my husband right down the street and my Mom a few miles down the road – you are an amazing woman, strong of heart and inspiring to all of us back home.

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