Remembering back to my days of young motherhood, I recall being hopeful my third pregnancy would bring us a girl. We had two delightful boys, ages four and two, and having a daughter would round out the picture.
When Linnea was born, my wish came true. As we opened her baby gifts, to my delight most of the tiny clothes were pink. What fun it was to look into the wash machine and see a rosy glow radiating through the water after four years of washing blue. It occurred to me that doing baby laundry, whether blue or pink, was good clean fun. One miniature outfit was cuter than the next, and handling them reminded me again and again I was a mommy, my childhood dream come true.
Motherhood moves from one season to another like any other station in life, and although our babies’ clothes were given away years ago, Nate and I were kept busy at active parenting from 1973 until just recently. Actually, the Nyman nest emptied only two weeks before we learned of his terminal cancer last September. (Our two younger girls had chosen to opt out of college in favor of becoming working girls in Chicago, seeking a break from academics and eagerly wanting to room together for a year. So they were nearby, but not living with us.)
Then our family’s world was flipped upside down by Nate’s dreadful diagnosis. Our kids rushed home, and we clung to each other as his life slipped away from us. A new season began, one that didn’t include Nate, and one of the unnumbered losses was our parenting partnership. Although our nest had emptied, the delightful stage of friendship-parenting our grown children together would have continued indefinitely.
But now there’s just me.
God had already begun unfolding a new season of parenting for both of us, however, before Nate died: grandparenting. New lives, new adventures. One of the sweet memories I’ll hold dear after helping with Hans and Katy’s babies in Britain, was a parenting déjà vu moment in my role as a grandmother: I got to wash baby clothes again.
The laundry was blue and pink for newborns Thomas and Evelyn, and multi-colored for toddler Nicholas, but just as it was when I was a new mommy, handling each miniature item was a pleasure. After the first load had been clothes-pinned to the line, I stood back and admired the view, getting the same kick out of surveying those tiny clothes as I did 37 years ago. It was a moment of recognizing how God had gifted me with the special blessing of having five little children in my life during the same season in which I am mourning the loss of my husband.
Although the seasons didn’t arrive looking exactly as I thought they would, God is still in charge of the changes. And while doing baby laundry in England, he used a powerful visual to remind me that even without Nate, some of life can still be good, clean fun.
”The living God changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Daniel 2:21