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Reader Voices: 9 months is only the beginning of a mother's waiting

By Penny Bowler

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, March 20 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Missionaries walk by a bronze sculpture on missionaries on bikes on the week of the commemoration of 50 years of language training at the Missionary Training Center for LDS missionaries on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, in Provo, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

There is nothing like a new experience to make life more interesting. My daughter is a brand new missionary, and since she is our first missionary, that makes me a brand new missionary mom. And so, the adventure begins.

We bravely pulled into the next available numbered space at the curb of the Missionary Training Center in Provo. We were there to drop our daughter off for her first stop on her 18-month journey as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

All too quickly we realized that years of contemplating, months of preparing, weeks of planning, days of anticipating and hours of praying would all culminate in a few brief minutes to hug and say goodbye. I didn’t cry on the outside. No puffy eyes or stuffy nose for me. Instead, an emotional torrent was unleashed in my heart that left me with a pounding headache and a queasy stomach.

At milestone moments like this in life, it is good to pull over at the nearest view area to stand and stretch and get one’s bearings. It is a good time to take a look at the road that led you to the spot where you now stand, to drink in the view of the present moment and to look ahead following the road as far as your eyes can see, taking time to ponder what lies beyond.

Looking back on the moment I held our first child for the very first time, I remember feeling the weight of the world in that small and fragile bundle. I knew nothing was ever going to be the same. I was elated and terror-stricken all at once.

As mothers, we are responsible to nurture our children. We keep them close so that we can teach them to go far.

E.B. White said in "Charlotte’s Web," “Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.” Being a mother and loving a child involves a rich lifetime of firsts and a lifetime of waiting.

With so much waiting to do between milestone moments, we mothers become very adept at finding things to do while we’re waiting. We feather the nest as we wait for the birth of our baby by decorating the nursery and washing all of the tiny clothes and putting them away in freshly papered drawers ready for the big day. We find much to occupy our time while waiting for first steps, first words, first days of school, first dates and first 18-month journeys away from home and family.

I went about cooking and cleaning and doing laundry and talking with mothers of Mormon missionaries while waiting for our daughter’s mission call. After her call, I kept myself busy helping her gather needed items and cross things off of her to-do list. While I waited for her sacrament meeting farewell address, I kept myself occupied deciding on what finger foods to serve at her birthday/bon voyage open house. While I waited for the countdown to her drop-off time, I helped squeeze a few last-minute items into suitcases and took several deep breaths. As a mother, it’s important to remember to stop and breathe.

I sit here now trying to describe with mere words what it’s like to send off a missionary while I am waiting to receive our first MTC email from our daughter. I feel a great excitement about what choice experiences await us all on the road up ahead a bit. I think I will go take a good look at my daughter's room and try and decide what color to repaint it before she gets back. That’s one thing I can do while I am waiting.

Penny Bowler has considered herself to be a writer almost since she discovered the power of words. So far she is an unknown writer but looks forward to changing that. Her family can attest to the fact that she is rarely at a loss for words.

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