It all comes full circle

I’ve talked to lots of young mamas–tired-eyed, weary shouldered, but alive with a sense of purpose–who, though bravely and completely immersed in the trenches of mothering their young ones, blanche at the thought of the eventual pain of separation from their children. They search my face when they ask me what it’s like when the first one takes off for college, or to work a grown-up job, or whatever.

I try to communicate two things to them. I’m the “older mother” now, apparently, much to my surprise.

1. Yes, it’s excruciatingly painful to work so hard and invest so much in that little person you are holding right now, and then to actually do everything you can–everything in your power!!–to help them get to the point where they will be ready to get into that old car and drive it down the driveway, away from you, toward their own lives in the world.

It hardly seems fair–and you can quote me on this–to work so hard, to sacrifice so much, to learn to be completely unselfish again and again, and then when your child has actually become quite an interesting and sweet and grown-up and accomplished young person (who sleeps through the night now, more’s the miracle), you actually have to do one more supremely unselfish thing. And that is to help them leave you.

That’s the first thing. It’s hard. It’s really hard. The second thing is a bit easier to swallow.

2. If they never left, they could never come back. And they could never bring back new things that they’ve learned, sweet new people that they’ve learned to love, and (yes) adorable grandbabies that you’ll freely give up anything for. Anything. Everything.

So that’s what this post is about. The coming back. The ineffable sweetness of having your children actually wanting to come back to you, to spend time with you and with each other.

It all feels like a reward.

it all comes full circle

There’s something magical in this coming back. Honey–they want to come back! The kids are coming home and they actually want to be here!


It’s especially magical when they bring new little ones to play with.


The coming back around New Year’s Day usually involves cheese fondue, at our place.


And strawberries!


And cheese fondue with strawberries. (It was experimental.)


The coming back usually also involves special fizzy beverages. Sometimes the strawberries end up in the fizzy beverages. It’s all good.


Grandbabies are the sweetest reward of all, don’t you agree?


Nowadays the coming back involves scenes like this: my grown-up boys holding their babies. Now they–the boys–are sleep-deprived and they are tired and their arms and hearts are full, and they are looking forward to nighttime, hoping the baby will actually sleep well tonight, so they can sleep well tonight.

Everything has come full circle. These boys who kept me up nights, in turn and in tandem, being only 2 years apart, are now being kept up nights by their own little bitty ones.

It is a reward, I think, to turn around from the sink and see this in my crowded little kitchen.


Here’s Emmett with his daddy Matthew, and Andrew with his dolly Anya, who usually is snacking on Amma’s “bet.” 🙂

And this.


And, of course, this!


We buy lots of bottles of those fizzy grape juice drinks this time of year.

So, for my dearest Gentle Readers who are mamas and papas right now in the trenches of early parenthood: it’s exhausting. It’s a confusing, sleep-deprived, maddening, crazy time. But hang in there. Don’t become weary from doing good.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” –Gal. 6:9

You will reap a harvest. You will! You may not be able to even imagine it today, but it’s coming much quicker than you would believe. Take it from an older mom. Keep doing your best, and you will, one day, God willing, be rewarded for it all.

And let me tell you, it’s a pretty sweet reward.



Speaking of The Prairie Homestead (or not!) . . . every Monday, my friend Jill sets up a fun event that you may want to check out, or even (if you’re a blogger, too) participate in! It’s a linking party of sorts, a big countrified barn dance of homesteading-related posts! I’m linking this post up this week right here, and I encourage you to jump on over and check out the other posts there!

23 thoughts on “It all comes full circle

  1. Francene Stanley

    I guess God wasn’t willing in my case. My children came back as young adults, which was good. But after moving away, I’m living on the other side of the world from my one remaining child and my grandchildren. I loved–I gave everything in me to support my children. I don’t want to be maudlin, but I have yet to reap my reward. Maybe it will come when I near the pearly gates. Yes, I think that’s when I’ll know my effort wasn’t wasted.

    1. Mari

      Francine, your reward is knowing that you gave everything in you to support them. Leave the rest to God. It is our responsibility to raise them right. The rest is out of our control. I have two grandchildren that I seldom see, and a daughter that lives half a continent away. That is OK. I want them to continue to mature and lead productive lives. When they are little, I want to hold them tight in my arms. When they grow up, it is time to open my arms and watch them fly.

    2. dramamamafive Post author

      I’m sorry that this disappointment is yours. God does give each of us (and our children) free will, of course, and I pray that someday you’ll see more of your daughter and grandchildren. It is difficult when the distance between you is so far.

  2. Mari

    I, too, am a Mama of grown daughters. I have another perspective and comment on #2. When you see those investments of yours that you spent so many years developing into pure gold, just think of this – as you watch their old car drive away, and you pick yourself up out of a lake of tears. You are so blessed! Just think of those Mamas out there whose children are still emotional infants, despite all the hard work invested in them, and they don’t have the desire to face the responsibilities of adulthood. Then consider those special mothers whose children, because of mental or physical handicaps, will never see their child become independent. Then take a moment, breathe deep, and thank the God of the universe that you have the blessing of watching that child walk away, only to see him or her return one day, not only as your grown child, but your friend.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Mari, that is so well said. When I prepare myself for another child to leave home, I KNOW in my head that all this is true: that it’s a real blessing that my children are able to grow up and want to spread their wings, that they are healthy and independent and courageous and able to leave. My head knows this. It’s my heart that doesn’t get the message. 😉

  3. Anita-Clare Field

    Speaking not as a parent but as a grown up kid, I have never wanted to be too far away from my family. I always went home for Sunday lunch. You have such a beautiful family its no wonder they want to come home. I’m 45 and already looking forward to spending tomorrow aftrernoon with my Mama.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Bless you, Anita-Clare. I’m so glad that I live just across town from my parents. I can call them often and go see them as often as I can. It’s always a comfort to walk into their house. Having good parents who love you no matter what is such a blessing, isn’t it?

  4. Meredith Eisenberg

    As a mom to a 10 year old… I’m in the sweet spot – and I know it. Babyhood is tough on mamas for sure… I am bracing myself for having my daughter leave me in a few years and hoping (against all home) that she wants to come back and spend time with me 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Tie those strings NOW, while you can, those strings which will bind you two together for life: do things together. Spend time together doing things you both enjoy. Talk to her about everything. Talk to her about life. Laugh together. Enjoy the time you still have with her at home, it’ll go faster than you think!

  5. Melissa

    After being up this morning with my 10-month old at 3:30 for about an hour, oh yes… I’m definitely on the darker days of the spectrum. I keep reminding myself that this will pass, and someday I’ll be wishing he’d get OUT of bed at 1 pm, rather than my current situation. 🙂

    Happy Friday to you!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Hang in there, Melissa! It will get easier and one day you’ll barely remember these “dark days” of very little sleep and exhaustion!

  6. Chef William

    Being a foster child when I was younger, I never had a place I wanted to return to. I was in contact with my mother and father who were divorced and lived in different cities. They were not able to raise me thus I bounced from foster home to foster home never putting down solid roots. The results are that now that our children are grown and have children of their own, it’s nice to visit with them once in a while but not nearly as important to me as it is to my wife. She must have her fix of grandchildren every so often or she becomes unhappy, and when she is unhappy it is not good for me. Therefore I make it a point to call the children every so often, without my wife knowing and reminding them to “Visit your mama”, otherwise their challenges of raising their children sometimes makes them forget to take the time for a visit.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Well done, Chef. Children who are successful and busy in their own lives, do need a gentle (or not so gentle) nudge now and then to come home and spend some time with “the old folks.” Well done!

  7. Karin Copperwood

    Lovely comment on the idea that we raise adults, not children. As a public school teacher I see lots of parents who, in my opinion, do nothing but raise large children who will have great difficulty finding success as adults without many, many painful lessons first. Your parenting style is truly and inspiration! Happy New Year!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      That does seem to be a problem in these affluent times: many parents are raising “large children” as you put it, who are not growing up into responsible adults. I know it’s a complicated issue, but I also know that my dad, whose parents had him outside doing real chores at a very young age, never had the problem of not growing up. He would never have been allowed to sit around the house watching t.v. or playing video games for days (or even hours) on end.

  8. Alana (@RamblinGarden)

    Because I was older than most of my friends when I had my son, I now find myself as one of the few who aren’t grandmothers. There is a whole range of experience with my friends and their grown children – the whole spectrum from devoted children who visit their parents often to one (very sad situation) friend whose daughter is estranged from her and,for a while, even withheld her grandchild from my friend. More than one person I knew had children who ended up well, but put their families through a very hard time as teenagers or young adults. We all hope for the best.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      That’s the bottom line, Alana: we all hope for the best. Of course children have free will and will do what they will do, but we HOPE that the time and love we pour into them will bear good fruit. I hope you get to enjoy grandchildren someday soon, my friend, they sure are fun! 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      It’s a painful, yet necessary process, Helen. (Frankly, I don’t fancy having all six children live with me throughout their adulthoods . . . ha!)

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