The Pass/Fail Test I Wasn’t Prepared to Take Sunday, August 26th, 2018
He had watched his older brother and sister stand on the front porch for their first day of school photos for years. He knew exactly what he was doing Monday morning when I said, “Okay, let’s take a picture before we leave for Pre-K.”
He tucked his arms into his Batman back pack and with his brand new blue shoes and his happiest smile and silliest pose, my youngest proudly took his place on the porch as the last baby I will send off to school.
I could write an entire book on all of the thoughts that went through my mind from the moment I snapped that photo until the moment he came back through the front door… All the questions… all the praying… all the wondering and wishing and celebrating and mourning.
But there was this one thought that I just couldn’t shake. As I looked at the pictures of him on my phone I wondered,
“Did I enjoy him enough? Did I enjoy the time I was given?”
All of the endless days that seemed to drag on forever full of picking up the same messes, and making the same meals, and washing the same clothes, and having the same little smiling face following me around all day… were just over.
And I knew that I would miss it, Heaven knows that they all tells us we will miss it… but NOBODY… NOT ONE PERSON… told me that on the day I sent my baby off to school I would issue myself a test with one question and a pass/fail grade.
“Did you enjoy the time that you were given enough?”
Because if someone had told me, I could have prepared. I could have cataloged all of the happy moments in my mind. I could have bookmarked them and highlighted them and made sure they were well-documented. Because I know we had plenty. We had days at the park and moments playing on the floor and happy memories of trips to the store.
But on the morning of the test, all the good is nearly impossible to remember. Suddenly, all you can think of is every time you were too busy to play, or said, “Just a minute” for far too long, or didn’t have it in you to read one more book or watch one more performance of hopping on one foot.
All you can think of are the moments you should have enjoyed more.
And that’s exactly where the Enemy of our hearts comes roaring in, seeking to devour our joy.
“It wasn’t enough. You didn’t do enough, love enough, care enough and now it’s too late. There’s nothing you can do about it. Your time is over and you’ll never get it back,” Guilt taunts.
But I have learned this. The scales naturally tip toward guilt because it’s heavier than grace. But that doesn’t make it true.
You and I were there for all of it. We did enjoy it. Yes. There were plenty of days where we just barely made it, where we survived and hoped for a better tomorrow. But moments of love were tucked into those days, as well.
I have a feeling this isn’t the last time we will issue ourselves this test. Perhaps as they get their driver’s license or go off to college, that test will slap itself down in front of our hearts and demand, “DECIDE. RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NOW. DID YOU ENJOY ALL OF IT ENOUGH?”
And so from here we get to prepare. We have the chance to take notes and catalogue in our memories of the times we hugged them longer, and breathed deeper, and soaked up their smallness. We can take mental snapshots of the moments they wrapped their arms around our necks and said, “You’re the bestest Momma ever.” We can record within ourselves the walks around the block and the times we pushed them in the cart at the store and every time they yelled, “Look at this, Mom!”
Don’t forget how great you really are, Mom. Don’t forget how much you really loved them. Because it was enough. It’s always been enough.