I just returned from a weekend business trip and when I walked into the door, Hannah and Evan attacked me with their hugs and kisses. “Mommy!!!!! We missed you so much!!” I missed them, too. One of the hardest things about this Africa trip is being away from my 5 and 8 year old for 19 days. It was the single most issue of telling Jeff that I would follow him on his dream climb in which he refused to do without me. Here I was presented with an opportunity to go on an amazing adventure with the love of my life (my hubby, Jeff) where the only guide that I would allow to take me up the mountain (Jeff Evans) may be doing his last expedition ever up Kilimanjaro at a designated time that happened to fall within the time our son (Evan) will be starting kindergarten. Yes, we will miss Evan’s first day of kindergarten. If I did a poll, I would probably find that most moms would say NO to this scenario. But I said yes. Does that make me Mom of the Year? It’s definitely a matter of opinion, and I am still dealing with my own emotions around my decision, to be completely honest.
Hannah and Evan are my world. Until you become a parent, you have no idea you have the capacity to love as much as you do your children. I wake up looking forward to their morning kisses, and I put them to bed with their special gentle touches. For Evan, it’s “rub backs.” And for Hannah, it’s very light touches with my fingertips across her face. We are so deeply bonded together, and I am so blessed to be their mother.
But I must remember that our children will only be with us for about 17-18 years, and I plan on being with Jeff forever. We are tasked to raise these special little people with lots of godly love and direction so they can eventually do life on their own successfully. Jeff and I invest in our relationship with each other in part for the sake of our chidren. We know that we can be much better parents when we are united, and our relationship remains close. Our children know that their mommy and daddy are very much in love, and we tell them often that moms and dads must have their own time together. As I look at all the purposeful time we spend with each of our kids, I ultimately believe this will be looked back on as a blip of time in their lives. Besides, being away allows Hannah and Evan to spend very special time with their grandparents. My mom lives in Richmond, Virginia and she will be spending the first 11 days with them which will allow her to keep that close bond with them alive even though she lives in another state. My sister, brother-in-law and their children will be visiting while we are gone so there will be plenty of family surrounding them. Jeff’s dad will take over the last 8 days, which will include their first days beginning school. We are doing everything we can to set-up the technology that will enable us to stay in regular touch with them, and we will have daily notes that will be written in advance so they feel loved and remembered the whole time we are gone.
But don’t get me wrong. It will be very hard for both Jeff and I to be away from Hannah and Evan. We will need to encourage each other each day that we are gone. And we are planning some very special time with them when we return.
I am also having to face another very emotional preparation before we depart and this is very personal. Maybe this is a common fear of mothers and fathers; I don’t know. But I have this fear of dying before I get the opportunity to see my kids grow up and start a life of their own. It’s not necessarily the fear of dying – because I am sure of where I am going – but it’s the missed opportunities. Watching my children grow up and start a family of their own is something I look so forward to in the future. It’s the premier blessing of parenthood! But ultimately, I know the good Lord is in control and nothing happens outside of His will. But it’s still a fear that I must pray about even in my regular life. And now I have to face that fear head on.
In preparation for this trip, we must have our Living Wills in place. You would think that we would have already done them being that we have 2 children. But it’s something I have personally avoided due to the emotional aspects of it all, and not wanting to even go there. So we have started having conversations with those that we would want to adopt our children, and we will complete the Will in the coming days. It must be done.
I said from the beginning that the physical challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro was not going to be the fear of mine. It’s all of this — but I have never allowed fear to stop me from living life to its fullest.
With the Colorado massacre that just occured in Aurora, we are reminded that none of us have to travel far to expose ourselves to a situation that could end your life. It could be at a movie theatre for goodness sakes! Jessica Ghawi escaped a shooting just a month before she was killed in that theatre. After the first incident and before she died, she said on her blog, “I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath.”
So we live life now. Do not let fears keep you from doing those things that you really want to do while you still can. Jeff and I are 41 years old and are in good shape now to do this trip. As we have talked to so many people about our climb, we have encountered way to many people that say they would never do what we are doing. I would encourage everyone to re-think that thing you are not doing because of fear. If fear is the only thing holding you back, do it anyway. What a great thing to teach our children by doing it ourselves.