My left hand rested on the top of the steering wheel freeing my other hand to hold the warm travel coffee mug. Through the speakers the morning weatherman projected a mix of sun and storms. Seemed about right. A new front was moving in.
Late August meant the seasons were about to change. Summer was bowing out and preparing to yield to the beauty of a Midwestern fall.
One season coming to an end and another on the verge of emerging, not only on the calendar, but also in my life.
I couldn’t get the parallel out of my mind as I headed south from my Indiana home toward Music City. According to my iPhone, I had over six hours of driving before I reached my hotel in Nashville.
Before I even left my hometown city limits, I passed the hospital with the sprawling campus that sits beside the highway. I swallowed hard. It was at that very place my three babies entered this world. Twelve years before today’s road trip the oldest had arrived, a week late, proclaiming that I no longer possessed the same control over my schedule or emotions. I had quit my job and stayed home with that baby boy. I stayed up nursing and rocking him and watching infomercials in the middle of the night. I changed him and helped him learn to walk and eat solid foods. It was an exhausting season, but it was where I wanted to be.
Two years later, when that little boy was diagnosed with cancer, I spent hours upon hours in that same sprawling hospital watching his body receive chemotherapy and blood transfusions from strangers. I cried tears of agony and snuggled beside him in the hospital bed. It was a seemingly impossible task of motherhood. And though I never would have chosen the leukemia for him, walking beside my son through the healing was where I wanted to be.
Within a few years, two more precious babies had arrived. Sisters, less than two years apart. Three kids under six and a now healthy boy starting Kindergarten. The days were long and messy. Exhausting and delightful. I did much caring and loving and teaching and helping. I put in the pigtails and the hair bows. I dressed the baby dolls and learned the names of all the wooden trains. I lost sleep and found joy in the mundane. It was where I wanted to be.
Home full-time with three kids for more than a decade. It had been difficult and blissful wrapped up in a bow. It had been a gift. The life I’d always dreamed about and was so blessed to be given by a supportive husband. It was the path I’d always wanted to walk.
But now the path is changing.
The winds of a new season are picking up speed and blowing strong emotions through my heart.
My youngest child climbed the bus steps for the very first time just last week. Her little blonde head barely visible through the bus window as she headed off to Kindergarten and I ventured into a new stage of life.
They’re not babies anymore.
They’re in middle school and happy elementary classrooms filled with friends and caterpillars and great learning curves.
The season of being home full-time with little ones is over. The trail has narrowed.
A few tears threatened to spill out of my eyes and were making it difficult to see the road ahead. I blinked them away and remembered once again. I was blessed to walk a path I’d dreamed would one day lie in front of me. It hadn’t been an easy stroll, but it had been a gift.
And now the terrain is taking on a new look.
I’m still a mommy. But during the day my nest is empty and my focus has changed. I am sad that the preschools years are over, but I have no doubt the next season will be just as beautiful, but in a different way than the one before it. Just because the trail has narrowed, doesn’t mean there is not still beauty all around me.
The road this day was leading to a writing conference in Nashville, Tennessee where I’d be learning and growing as a writer, as well as pitching a book proposal to two literary agents and an editor. I was so excited about the potential and my dreams, that I could barely fall asleep the night before.
And as the hospital campus faded away in my rearview mirror I smiled to myself.
The seasons were changing. The path was narrowing. But it was where I wanted to be.
I could look ahead with anticipation and an obedient heart to what God would lay before me. I was confident in this because I have sought Him as my trail guide. He knows the path. And He will gently lead me in the days ahead.
I loved the season of baby toes and onesies. Though painful, I was faithful through chemo drugs, steroid rage, and scary trips to the ER. I did the Kindergarten round-ups and registrations and back-to-school shopping. I found the green vinyl folder with the two pockets and three metal fasteners.
And I will treasure those moments for as long as I live.
I had the honor and privilege of being home with my children. But the preschool years are now behind me.
The highway is leading to new places, and adventures, and trials, and rejections, and hopes, and thrills.
I set my cruise control, turned up the radio and sang along with the music of the day.
The trail narrows. It’s time.
And with my eyes on my Trail Guide, I can trust that the journey ahead will be another beautiful gift. It’s where I want to be.
This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write about a topic based on a one-word prompt. We are a challenged to write for about 5 minutes. This week I cheated. Gasp! I had already written this essay, but had not posted it yet. I used my FMF time to edit and tweak this post to work with this week’s word: PATH. I’m sorry! I hope you’ll forgive me! 😉