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Window to the World: A Mother’s Day Salute to Soon-to-be Empty Nesters

Maddy
“Let’s see the day,” I’d say, as I held my newborn daughter up to the window and peered into the backyard. “It’s going to be a sunny day, but if it rains, that’s okay; the rain will help the flowers bloom.” On and on I’d go each day, narrating our little corner of the world to my newborn daughter, who hung on every incomprehensible but melodic word.

Eighteen years later, I’m standing at the window, watching my daughter drive away. Only a few days left of high school and my little “Bird” will be winging her way to college, new friends and new wonders.

I’ve been reading old pages from the journal I kept for her, remembering the rainy Saturdays we spent watching movies in the ‘tent’ we made out of blankets in the living room, or the long ‘nature walks’ through the woods behind our house. Tucked in-between coffee-stained pages of the journal are sparkly ‘masterpieces’, created during long church services or my endless hair appointments.

There were stories about tough times, too: scraped knees, uninvited birthday parties, getting teased the first day she got glasses, the pain of braces. There were losses of beloved pets: her chocolate lab, Suzie, who died of old age, and poor Delilah, her dwarf hamster, who didn’t, thanks to the family Bengal.

My daughter is the first in five generations to not grow up on an Iowa farm. Lessons in life and death came with a vengeance on our working livestock farm; in addition to falling in love with runts that didn’t make it, there were unvaccinated cats lost to distemper, or sad, abandoned dogs who came limping down our driveway; some we saved; some we couldn’t. She won’t know what that’s like, nor will she ‘walk beans’ or paint endless fence posts. She’ll never chase a stubborn pony through a thistle-filled pasture; she’ll never drive a combine.

Farming has changed; it’s all so much more sophisticated and diverse. But, those mothers holding their newborn daughters, staring out their backyard windows, have not changed; they still cradle their child, peer through their windows and try to bring the wonder and the beauty of their world into focus for the next generation. They raise their daughters and sons, grow our food, protect the land, pray for it to rain or it to stop, and worry about the future, just like the rest of us.

As I count down the precious days left of high school, I say the same words I’ve always said as I watch my daughter head off to class: “God, be with her-keep her safe from harm, evil, illness, injury and the meanness of others. May she have a good day and be strong; thank you for bringing her into my life.”

She escapes the view of the window too soon. They all do, but the joys, worries and memories we get to keep, unite us all, no matter what the view out our window. So, let’s ‘see the day’ for what it is today and can be tomorrow, not what it was yesterday. Our children deserve it. Not just on Mother’s Day, but every day.

Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.