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  1. oh, yes… boys…the things they do think up to do…and the more there are the more “creative” they can get…I love raising my boys…watching them grow into men…and yes…I love how you said…empty out the regrets…I think it is important to have honest conversations about being raised in our homes…the good and the bad…be willing to listen and not defend…be the first one to say…wow…I am so sorry…I would so do that differently now…and the best is when the transition from teen to adulthood is over…no longer parent child…but brothers and sisters in Christ…some of the best years are still to be experience…I look back with fond memories and I see beautiful stains …I also look forward with a new anticipation of new ways our family will experience life today…

    • Ro. I really appreciated this part in your comment:
      “I think it is important to have honest conversations about being raised in our homes…the good and the bad…be willing to listen and not defend…be the first one to say…wow…I am so sorry…I would so do that differently now…”

      Great insight. Thanks for sharing.

      Kelley

  2. This tugged at my heart strings. I have two kids, one is in 2nd year of college so I can very much relate. The youngest is going in to 3rd grade. I’ll hold on to that as long as I can…..

    Thanks for writing this post Kelley!

    xoxo
    Jocelyn

  3. Such great insight and encouragement not only for parents, but for anyone needing to take a step back and allow a child in their lives to fly. I especially loved the reminder that it’s “always, always more listening than telling.” That applies to any relationship! Thank you Kelley for allowing your voice to be heard.

  4. “There is a hidden gift which comes only from grown children and can be found only with a refusal to succumb to regrets. ”

    That is just the very hardest part! Thanks, Kel. Lots to chew on here.

  5. Kelley,

    Beautiful words! I am just on this side of that release and already struggling.
    Thanks for putting it into words.

    Andrea

  6. I grew up as the youngest and only girl with three brothers. The Lord has blessed me with three amazing kids of my own. Sister is sandwiched in the middle, bless her heart. My oldest baby boy just turned 18 and is in Marine Corps basic training. My youngest baby boy is 7 1/2 (the half is very important). All my kids are close, but the boys have a very special bond. They call themselves “brochachos”. Not just brothers, but best friends. Nobody has told them there is a decade between them.
    There is just something about boys. The endless sound effects when playing hot wheels or Legos. The amount of dirt that sticks to them when they simply walk across the yard. Neither of my boys were daredevils, they are always playing it safe and being cautious. They like knowing the rules and following them.
    I’m blessed beyond measure that my oldest is very grounded in his faith and has demonstrated that to his brother and sister. They are following closely in his footsteps. He knows those eyes are watching him too.
    Little Bub has been writing letters to his Brochacho at boot camp. He writes them himself and has been so good at saying the most encouraging things. I know he learned that from his brother. What a blessed momma I am.

    • Kim. Clearly you ARE a blessed momma! I love your description of your Brochachos. Precious.
      Blessings to you … and your son in Boot Camp!

      Kelley

  7. As the mother of a daughter who left for college a year ago and just returned two days ago to live at home and attend a local college for a semester before transferring again…. this really pulled at my heart. Thanks for putting the simple things into perspective!

  8. I never married and never had children, but my friends have always shared their kids with me. I had a best friend once who was closer to me than anyone. Her boys called my “Mama Too”! It was sweet. One of the boys cried in kindergarten when his teach wouldn’t let him buy me a Christmas present from the “treasure chest” because it was only for family. He told his teach “but she’s my mama too.” (It stuck while they were little.) The teacher let him buy a bendable horseshoe ring for me. (I still have it 20 years later.) These boys were so much fun. Anytime we were going somewhere my friends youngest son would always choose to ride with me instead of his mom. (I’m told her it was because I was a better drive. I’m sure it had more to do with that fact that we sang silly songs loudly and ate candy in my car.)

    A few years after that, my friend went through a divorce and due to some huge misunderstandings our friendship ended. Leaving “Mama Too” childless. A few years ago, we reconnected through Facebook and I got invited to that same little boys college graduation. After almost 15 years, I saw my boys again. They knew I was invited, but I don’t think they knew I was coming. I walked in and these MEN came running and gave me a big hug. It was a very happy moment. The “baby” in the family was very young when things change between their Mom and me (we have since started mending our relationship) and all he said to me was “I don’t remember much, but I remember that you loved me…and I love you.” I am so glad that the “mark” I left on their life was one of love. May I continue to do that for them.

  9. What a beautiful moment of reunion — and such an affirmation that you have permanently left a mark an their lives as well, Kristy. Thanks for sharing this sweet story, “Mama Too.”

    Best to You!
    Kelley

  10. Kelley, I love hearing your perspective. These words grabbed me so, “At every stage of departure, be it kindergarten or college, a mom’s greatest gift is bittersweet satisfaction. We love our children with an ever-loosening grip so they can eventually fly on their own.” I just did a blog post on this very aspect of parenting. As the mom of a grown up daughter who has her own family now, I can totally relate and the truth is, it is indeed bittersweet. I too have learned the wisdom of always ‘more listening than telling’. Love to read words from a mom on the other side of this mothering journey!

    • Kate. I just had a nice time browsing your site. : ) What a delight to find that you are Francesca’s mom. I love her music! Happy to be following you now on your writing journey.

      Thanks for your thoughts!
      Best to you,
      Kelley

  11. Wow – Kelley – so beautiful and so true! The intricate dance as a momma of boys who grow to men is often tricky and complicated. Esp the journey through adolescence when the ones who once adored you may occasionally give you a grunt! I often felt like some days involved shepherding “push me/pull me” llama like creatures and on really rough seasons walking through mind fields! But in time come deep rewards, joys unexpected – watching sons survive states away pursuing dreams, finding love….most recently having one of my sons grasp my hand and escort me down an aisle where I had a front row seat to witness his lifelong covenant promises, surrounded by siblings who will be there long after I have left for the other side. So much sowing…so much waiting…but ahhh, the reaping – with deep joy! And the dance continues…..
    Thanks for your beautiful post Kelley….eager for more!!!!

    • Ann … oh my.
      Loved this:
      “I often felt like some days involved shepherding “push me/pull me” llama like creatures and on really rough seasons walking through mine fields! But in time come deep rewards, joys unexpected – watching sons survive states away pursuing dreams, finding love …”

      Beautifully spoken. Wow.

      And congratulations on the wedding! You aren’t old enough for that yet, are you??? Oh wait, I am about to do the same thing. Cheers for growing families!

      And the dance continues … yes.
      oxox
      Kelley

  12. Kelley, this post was like a memory for me, drumsticks, lanky frame, carpet stain and all. The only differences are that our carpet stain is black (drum pedal oil) and mine is a solo boy in a gaggle of girls!

    Whenever I start to tear up thinking about how he’s off on his own, I remind myself that this was the goal all along – to teach him to use his wings, to catch his own breeze, to fly in the direction of his own choosing. When that occasional call (or more likely, text) comes because he’s excited about something and not because he wants something, I find comfort in the knowledge that he still knows I’m his biggest fan. When I note the dwindling size of our family in the church row, I am encouraged by the knowledge that he is serving in a church of his own choosing, more on fire for his Savior than ever before. Yes, this was definitely the goal for my sweet little boy.

  13. Diana… I love that we have shared drum sticks, lanky frames, and carpet spills. And I loved this part:

    “Whenever I start to tear up thinking about how he’s off on his own, I remind myself that this was the goal all along – to teach him to use his wings, to catch his own breeze, to fly in the direction of his own choosing. When that occasional call (or more likely, text) comes because he’s excited about something and not because he wants something, I find comfort in the knowledge that he still knows I’m his biggest fan.”

    That resonates with me, too. Sweetly said.
    Thanks so much for sharing here.
    ox
    Kelley

  14. this is just beautiful. As a mom of 4 boys who is “trying not 2 blink”…this story will be treasured by me 🙂 Boys are not at all what I thought wanted, not even close to what I expected, and so much more than I ever thought possible 🙂 Blessed to be a mom of 4 🙂

  15. Heidi. I followed your clever link and totally enjoyed your blog. Your “about me’ page actually made me laugh out loud.

    You are obviously a blessed Mom with such a sweet bunch of 4 sons!
    I am happy to be in such good company. : )

    Best to you!

    Kelley

  16. Such a beautiful recall of life-story . . . the paint smear remains continuing to remind of the relationship with a wonderfully creative young man. Happy reflections stored away that are yours (and now ours) for always. Thank you, Kelley.

  17. Thanks, dear Kelley. Many memories of my own three, two of whom are now grown men.

    “…a refusal to succumb to regrets”… Ever ongoing struggle.

    • Thanks, dear Penny! And yes, the regret part … an ongoing struggle.
      And your grown three are reason to celebrate, every day.
      Precious.
      : )

      Thanks for stopping by.
      oxox

  18. I have a son. 30 ish…. My first born. I would live and die for him. He is married to a beautiful woman, now with 2 beautiful sons of his own. I have lived in a place of regret and wallowed there for some time, unable to forgive my own inadequacies & inabilities. These 2 precious grandsons make me strive for more and better, but regret sometimes makes me cringe and it is so hard to forgive myself and simply forget. These two precious lives enable me to do differently. So, I focus on that. I am not mommy, I get to be grandma ( otherwise known as Baca). Yes, this new phase makes me see differently, and I pray that His grace continues to cover me and grows me past those failures and inadequacies into the best Baca these boys have!

    • Cathy, may you be blessed with God’s grace to truly let go of the burdens of the past, washed away like rushing waters. And may you to continue to embrace new joy as you walk ahead as Baca to your precious grandkids.

      Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment here.
      Blessings to you.

      Kelley

  19. Good post! I guess it can be hard to watch your children grow up and leave you. It is equally hard to watch parents as they age and leave us..permanently.

    Enjoy your children and their craziness for as long as possible. Make some memories with them.!

    • Beth. I have also said good bye to parents. Yes. A very different kind of hard.
      Definitely gives reason to enjoy our kids for as long as possible!
      Thanks so much for the comment.

  20. I already wrote on Facebook (I think), but want to write again so you know how much I loved your story! Having 3 sons, now grown to manhood, never changes our “Momness”, and the pride and joy we feel. You brought back memories and emotions that I treasure, and I share your pride in your 4 fine sons. Thanks, once again, for your wonderful writing.

    • Carolyn! I admire you as a Mom of sons! ‘Love how you describe the ‘Momness’ which never changes. I look forward more of that, with you.

      Thanks so much for commenting here. oxox

      Much love to you.
      Kelley

  21. Beautifully well said, once again. As I look at Hannah’s floor, which has become that sea of packing boxes etc (no drum sticks), and realize the countdown to college is now mere weeks away, instead of years; your posts provide reassurance that I can do this. That Hannah can do this.

    Xoxo, Barb

    • Barb … oh my. Yes to all of it. She may not have drum sticks but I know she has plenty else. And you have everything it will take to see her go, and come back, and go, and come back again. : )
      oxox

      ~K

  22. Thanks for these thoughts. I have an 18-year-old son who has just graduated high school and this is a much more difficult time than I thought it would be…just emotionally. He’s a really good young man, so behavior isn’t an issue. It’s just…the part about him not being my little guy anymore. And his friends going away to college, while he stays here because he felt he wasn’t ready to go away. The friends are “my boys” too. They are, as you say, a “band of brothers” who’ve known each other since they were sandbox kids. This transition time is hard when you’ve raised a good son who makes good decisions!! I am not ready to let go and yet I am very excited for him to go out in the world and become who he is meant to become.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    • Kelly, what a great description of the transition time both you and your son are in. I love the term “sandbox kids”. Such a great visual image. Best to you as you are loosening your grip for all of them to fly. Thanks for your sweet comment.

      Kelley