Thursday, January 29, 2015

On being the oldest

So much has happened since I stopped posting to the blog that I decided each child deserved their own update. To make things fair (I'm sure the five others will disagree!), I am starting with the oldest because she has had to put up with me the longest:)

I had Sutton when I was 22 years old. In many ways we grew up together. No matter what happened around us, we were the one constant in each other's lives. She was a momma's-girl from the get-go. She had to see me, touch me, "feel" me wherever we were. She had such separation-anxiety, but to be truthful, I did too. Mom's have a need to be needed and she needed me like no one ever had. It filled me up. But in doing so, I created quite the clingy little girl. I used to drive my car with my left hand and stretch my right arm crooked unnaturally to the backseat to hold her hand while she was buckled in. We drove that way for years. I held her hand. She sang. My arm went to sleep. She sang louder. She would not let me let her go. She wanted her momma all. the. time. I didn't mind. It worked for us. 

When I last posted on the blog in January 2011, Sutton was in college in Abilene and the other children and I were trying to rebuild our shattered family. It is hard being so far away when your family is struggling, but Sutton called and emailed and texted and called again (and again and again), and she came home every chance she could. She attempted to mother me, as she witnessed me drowning at times, but I could right myself rather quickly so I would send her back to school. That frustrated her. 


Many, many, MANY tears were shed between us those few years as we tried to be there for each other, but were often unsure how. My focus was on herding and caring for the five children at home and I knew she felt left out; so far away from the people that made her whole. She was excluded, not only from the family grief, but also from our feeble, sometimes blundering, attempts at healing. I was trying to shield her, to protect her heart from the ugliness that surrounded us. But she needed more. More time. More information. More inclusion. More of me. So while the rest of us were here searching for comfort, for any form of stability before the next wave hit, she was riding her own tumultuous wave, only alone and without her momma to steady her.  
We mourned her trips back to Abilene. Every time she left, there were feelings, awful raw feelings that had to be dealt with. Yet, we all found a way to make ourselves okay, to be well enough to forge into the next day, the next week, not knowing how we were going to do it when we were so incomplete, missing her, our important part.

We waited for her to return. And she always did. I relished the fact that when she came home, she loved on her siblings with everything she had. They needed to feel it as much as she needed to give it. For brief, precious moments in time, our important part was back and we were "us" again, whole again.



Then one day she came back home...with a boy. Andrew pursued her in such a sweet manner. He is an only child so you can imagine his feelings when the other five children attacked him each time he walked in the door. He was wrestled with, punched, jumped on, teased, ridden, napped name it, he was fair game. But he was such a good sport and quickly became the big brother they all longed for. I could not have built a more perfect man for my daughter. And he became mine in the process of becoming hers.

They got engaged on the perfect rainy day in Texas.

They decided to marry in Abilene and those two handled ALL of their own wedding preparations! It was BEAUTIFUL!!!




And then the very BEST thing happened! When they returned from their honeymoon, they moved here! Well, not literally in my house, but just a few minutes away! Our important part that had forged out on her own was back, and she brought with her a tall handsome, just as necessary part we didn't even know was missing. And yet, with the two of them with us, we all fit so much better.

They have created a wonderful life for themselves. Andrew is a pastor at our church (he even married David and me!) and he is attending The King's University. Sutton graduated from Texas Tech University and is now a teacher at a local high school teaching sophomore English and coaching varsity volleyball. She's also co-directing the club volleyball team she played for in high school, and is coaching their Elite 18's team. They are both amazingly gifted.

And I have a granddog! His name is Buddy and he loves his mom and dad so.

They live five minutes away so they come to dinner periodically, and we usually go to church together. It is my dream to have my children this close, and I know how blessed we all are.


I could not be more proud of the woman Sutton has become. She works so hard to be accomplished at everything she does, and she succeeds. Sometimes I look at her and marvel that she's not more broken. But she's not. She has a husband that adores her and siblings that want nothing more than to be near her.

And she has me.

We started this journey together 24 years ago. She opened my heart to motherhood and allowed me to love to an extent I never thought possible. We grew each other up. There were times I couldn't bear to look into her eyes and see the fear, the uncertainty of what lie ahead for us. My job was to protect her. I couldn't always do my job.

But look at us now. We made it, Sutton Button. We scratched and clawed our way out and I am still holding your hand; only now you're in the front seat and we can both sing, sing loudly and badly and with great joy. And I won't let go, babe. I will never let go. I will gladly hold your hand forever.