|The Launch Pad|
By Shawnelle Eliasen
Grant paced steps in the misty rain at the end of our front walk. Every few moments he’d crane his neck to look for the yellow bus. It was my son’s first day of public junior high school.
My three little boys and I perched on our creaky old porch swing. The heavy August heat had crept into the morning. I twisted my fingers through my toddler’s damp curls and wondered how six years of homeschooling had gone by so fast.
Change. I didn’t like it. Not that day. Not ever. I enjoyed change about as much as I enjoyed my annual physical.
The yellow bus appeared and crept to the curb. Its jaws creaked open and Grant clambered up the steps. Then the doors snapped shut, and Grant was gone.
“Lord, go with him today,” I prayed. But a hard ache settled on my soul. I’d miss Grant. And I’d worry- even though my husband and I knew it was good for him to go. Stinking change.
The feeling was familiar. Our home had become a launch pad. Everywhere I turned, one of our five sons was ready to blast into some new life phase while I silently prayed for strength to groan out the countdown. And that morning, the blast didn’t relent. My eldest son would be driving to school. My youngest was trading the bottle for a cup. Even my 5-year-old strained against my parental perimeter with talk of a friend’s sleep-over birthday party.
It was all good, but I was stretched.
Lord, I’m struggling. The boys are growing so fast, I lamented. Help me roll with the changes.
The house echoed the absence of Grant that day, but I began to settle into the aftershock of the takeoff. It was strangely quiet, though, considering that I still had three rambunctious little ones at home. But in the rare hush, I began to hear the answer to my prayer.
During bath time, as I sculpted shampoo horns on sudsy blond heads I reflected on the truth that God knows my children — right down to the number of hairs on their heads (Matthew 10:30). The ache in my heart subsided. When a worrisome thought ebbed against my brain, I remembered to whom my children really belong, and His faithful, loving care eased the strain of my soul.
The rain gave way to sun that day. At 3 o’clock, I stood in the afternoon scorch, with my three little boys, and awaited the return of the bus. Sure enough, it deposited a grinning Grant to the curb.
His step popped with new confidence. It had been a successful launch. Just then I felt a tug on my shorts. My 3-year-old, Gabriel, cupped his tiny hands over his eyes and squinted up at me.
“Mama,” he said. “Soon it will be my turn to ride the big, yellow bus.”
I looked down at my little man and my heart plummeted. “OK, here we go again,” I said.
Five. Four. Three. Two. One.
Shawnelle Eliasen lives in Illinois with her husband and five sons. She writes about faith, family and friendship.