I am currently sitting in the Library on St. Gregory’s campus in Oklahoma acting like I have nothing pressing to do. Since Lauren was busy walking across the United States of America this summer raising awareness for life from conception to natural death, we only had a few days to see her. My Dad was coming up to Oklahoma to meet with the Abbott, so I hitched a ride and am hanging out until Lauren finishes with classes and work tomorrow. I got a quick lunch with her today, will be able to grab dinner with her this evening, and tomorrow I’ll have a 4-5 hour car ride back home with her. Just to be with her is a blessing for this momma. And I am enjoying the quiet, AC, and am surrounded with books—what better place is there? Since I have all this free time and my mind is all about Lauren, I thought that I should blog about my first biological offspring. Good idea, right?
Lauren will probably be the least happy to see that I have written a blog post about her. She is my humble, introverted, little Lauren. My first biological child, therefore my first guinea pig. I can still recall the overwhelming feeling of love the first moment I laid eyes on her. I knew I had been endowed with a precious gift from God and was terrified of the prospect, overwhelmed by the responsibility, and overcome with a love so deep that I wanted to protect her from all evil. So within weeks of bringing her home I insisted that we sell the car and get a van. I just knew that the car would be hi-jacked sometime between strapping her into her carseat and my climbing into the driver’s seat. With a van, I could get inside and lock the doors and then get the seat belts fastened. You’re laughing, but I am dead serious. Just ask my blessed husband. After the hormones calmed down, I let go a little more; but I know that I’m not the only mother who can identify with that feeling of ferocious protection of our offspring.
Lauren is incredibly gifted with knowledge and has the ability to learn things easily and quickly, as well as being fiercely independent. She is also incredibly creative with a unique ability to think outside the box. I, on the other hand, only know the box and what’s in it so this ability intrigues me. I’m not sure what God has planned for her, but I have no doubt that He will do great things with her if she subverts to His divine will. Lauren displayed these traits from a very early age. I, being a first-time mom, thought it was typical for a child to speak in sentences at age one, count to 20 by 15 months, and know all of her colors and shapes (including her favorite shape, cylinder) by 18 months. So, when she gives me a hard time now about the fact that I made her write her own thank you notes after her second birthday party, please take into consideration that she began writing her name at 14 months of age and I thought this was what every two-year old could do! Don’t ask me why Ben is not potty trained at 3 ½.
We are talking about Lauren here. We will get to Benjamin another time. Probably after he’s potty trained.
Anyway, in addition to her intelligence Lauren has a keen sense of humor and loves to play practical jokes. She has had a knack for the witty for as long as I can remember. Maybe sarcasm and snarky are not the best traits to have, but I can at least take some credit for those. Is that a good thing? Well, it is something. It still brings a smile to my face when I think of her as 20 month old toddler, telling knock knock jokes and getting the timing right. Or her sarcastic reply to my exasperated question, “Where did all this laundry come from?” “The store,” she said and walked away laughing.
Besides her beautiful face, I miss the laughter she brings to our family while she has been away at college and walking across the country this summer for Pro Life Crossroads. I mentioned that she is fiercely independent, right? Her first summer in college she worked in Oklahoma for Totus Tuus spreading the Gospel and catechizing the youth. We had a couple of weeks with her at the beginning, middle and end of summer in 2013. It was NOT what this mama had envisioned for Lauren’s first summer in college. I thought she would come home, get a job, spend time with us . . . But, when she told me that she would be working as a Catachesis, how could I say no? This summer we had 3 days in May, one in June and 3 hours on Saturday evening with her before she returned to school on Sunday. But who’s counting? Me. That’s who. I am very grateful for Skype and Google Hangouts; but, it isn’t the same as seeing my baby face-to-face. Although it is true that we missed her, I am in awe of the experience that she gained in walking across the country. Seriously. Can you even imagine? Her team started in San Francisco by walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. Then she went through the mountains, across the dessert, through the heartlands and into the places that saw the birth of our nation! In addition to this tactile experience of our great country, she was the face of Pro Life along the way—a witness for the unborn, the vulnerable among us, the elderly, the dignity of each individual human life created uniquely and equally in the image of God. Sure, she has some funky tan lines; but, what an adventure! During our short reunion, I soaked up every moment and asked her what she learned. I was anticipating a deep and thoughtful response, or even a witty one. She replied, “Did you know that other families don’t require their kids to submit a budget to get their allowance and that most three year old’s don’t do chores?” Yes. Yes, I did. Although her answer doesn’t appear monumental or particularly deep on the service, it is a marker that she has become more independent from her father and me. She is realizing in a tangible way that her childhood experiences are remarkably different from others. This inevitably leads to making life choices that are more her own and less what Mom and Dad would do. And that is a very healthy and mature outcome.
When we began to homeschool Lauren at age 6 after having enrolled her in a private Catholic school for PreK and Kindergarten, many people thought we were trying to protect and shelter her. We just felt that it was the best environment for her to learn and grow at her own pace. She thrived. Lauren left for college shortly after her 17th birthday. Many people wondered how I could let her go so young. When she announced her plans with Crossroads this spring, several people expressed concern for her safety and wondered how we could let her go. The fact is that Lauren has been my lesson in letting go from the day she was born. My experience serves to remind me that our children are only on loan to us from God. It is our duty to instill in them faith and morals, to educate their minds, bodies and souls, and then to let them go and live the Gospel fully and completely, always seeking God’s will. Am I scared? Sometimes. But, unlike those first years peppered with irrational fears of being hi-jacked or watching her fall to her death from the park slide, I too have matured and grown. I know God loves her more than I ever could. I know that if He is calling her to task, it is my duty to step aside and let her go. And I know that He will give us all the graces and strength to persevere. In the meantime, I am going to continue to soak up every minute I can. How long until dinner?
To read about some of Lauren and Crossroads Central Walkers’ experiences, go to their blog at firstname.lastname@example.org.