Avonlea was born in April. The end of March I had pretty convincing false labor. I went to see my doctor and I said, "Um, I hope that's not what labor is going to feel like, because that really hurt!"
She looked at me like she was trying to figure out if I was joking, I wasn't.
She didn't really have to say anything because I had my answer a few weeks later.
Yes, it really hurt. But I didn't care! I rejoiced in spite of the pain, I enjoyed the wonder of the birth of the most beautiful little girl!
To make up for my lack of preparation for the pain involved in birth, I tortured myself throughout the next pregnancy. I anticipated the pain and so it came as a shock when Grant shot out quickly and almost painlessly. I am captured on video, holding my son seconds after his arrival, exclaiming, "That was easy!"
And that's me in a nutshell, always surprised by the best and the worst.
Parenting the teen years has had something of the same feel to it. I am still grappling with the fact that this is hard. It's labor to raise these children through their hormones and my own. It's agonizing to search the faces of my teens, trying to find something familiar, something sympathetic.
I watch them stretching past me, yearning for the light and air of freedom and independence. I see them make their own choices and I feel the tearing of separation, even though they are often making good choices.
Throughout the labor, throughout their ache and mine, there is profound gratitude. I was blessed to be able to carry them inside me for nine months. I was blessed to be able to wrap my arms around them all these years and train them. I am blessed to have them always, embedded in my heart, twined into the person I am.
I stood at the window and waved this morning as Avonlea drove off to school. She didn't look back. And the pain of that surprised me.
But I rejoiced in spite of the pain, as I watched in wonder at the maturing of the most beautiful young lady.