Three weeks from today, our second eldest son will board an international flight bound for Central America. There, he will serve the next two years of his life as an LDS missionary.
I’m conflicted in my feelings about this whole scenario, bittersweet in my tender memories.
I remember putting our oldest son on a plane almost three years ago for the same humbling experience. His mission destination was far different, but my torn emotions today still mirror those I felt in yesteryears.
I was thrilled for his decision to serve selflessly as a missionary, to bring light and knowledge to others, but at the same time, I felt melancholy for the inevitable empty space that would fill our home in his 24-month absence. Now, I’m resigned to the fact that I will experience these selfsame ambivalent emotions a second time, with a second son, somehow divided in my loyalties.
Notwithstanding, I’ve been blessed with some precious extra moments with my future missionary. He finished his Freshman year of college about a month ago and our family has reveled in his presence back in our home ever since.
Additionally, I have been able to accompany him to the numerous requisite pre-mission doctor and dental visits, wisdom teeth extractions, government passport hoopla, immunization boosters, and subsequent photography sessions. It’s been my pleasure to help him choose essential missionary clothing, shoes, and gear and quite refreshing to spy him literally counting down the days until his official service date, a mere 21 days from now.
I look at my check list of things to do before he leaves and it seems overwhelming, but then I remember I’ve done this mission preparation before with an older son, except this time around, the time seems to be slipping away too fast, the tick-tock of the clock seems wildly deafening.
As his reporting date creeps closer and closer, the realization that he’s leaving for two long years weighs heavy. The humbling fact remains that he will be out of my home, out of my state, out of my country, and out of my periphery for the next 24 months.
I watch him pack up all his Earthly belongings in just a few boxes that will take up residence in our outdoor barn for a while. He smiles as he reminisces days gone by and with wide eyes shining, exudes such a warm confidence about his upcoming escapade that it’s hard not to catch hold of his genuine enthusiasm.
I know he will treasure his mission adventures and that I must recalibrate myself to playing the role of Missionary Mom once more, a background persona that takes the so-called “mothering” completely out of my hands. I’m not sure I’m ready for this new character shift. Those inevitable monikered “mommy growing pains” that force me to stretch and somehow flourish are approaching nonetheless.
I have to trust in the fact that while serving, he’ll be taken care of, get enough to eat, and that he will be protected and strengthened. I have to depend upon the kindness and goodness of others, knowing deep in my heart that missionaries worldwide are blessed beyond measure.
I find comfort in the fact that myriads of past and present Missionary Moms have experienced this same scenario for many generations. I must join with them once again and be among those willing to place my missionary into the worthy hands of faith and trust.
It’s an incredible journey and one well worth the effort, a venture I am privileged to be a part of a second time, growing pains and all.