I just need to breathe. I don’t necessarily want to get off. But we’re finding him a place, you know. A place of his own, where he’ll have to cook and clean and wash his own basin and toilet. Where he’ll have to find his running tights all by himself when he ‘loses’ them under the pile of unput-away laundry. Where he’ll have to say goodnight to himself. It’s too much to take in, it’s going too quickly and so I’m numb right now trying to cope with my emotions. My quiet times with God are intense, as I hand everything over to Him, like a naughty child who’s been pilfering, and her pockets are bulging with stuff she should never have taken. Slowly, one by one, she humbly takes the items out of each pocket and hands it over to the outstretched hand of the parent, finding relief and freedom in the process. Now I’m not a naughty kid who’s been stealing, so the analogy is a bit weird, but an anxious mother who worries about things she can’t change is still carrying what she shouldn’t, right? Because He tells us, Do not worry about anything.
And Yoda said, Do or do not, there is no try.
Joshua is currently writing his final school exams, the marks of which we then submit to UNISA (University of South Africa), through whom he hopes to do a 4-year teaching degree whilst participating in a student teaching program for the duration of his degree, at Sun Valley group of schools in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. Southern Suburbs are another world of Cape Town to where we are an hour’s drive away. So he’ll live there Monday to Thursday, teaching during the day, sports in the afternoon, possibly also working towards qualifying as a personal trainer at a local gym. Then he gets a day off to complete assignments. So he’ll drive home Thursday afternoons, do laundry and collect frozen lasagnes, and back on Sunday evenings.
My mind keeps replaying home videos of him at various stages. For the record, when Joshua watches himself on home videos, he hates himself. He thinks his corny jokes are unbearable and his constant hogging of the camera infuriates him (although this is a practice he continues today).
Then my schizophrenic mind switches to playing home videos of the future, complete with canyon-sized gaps which I fill in with worry. What will he eat? How will he cope? Does he even know how much loo paper costs? Is it possible that he can die from peace and quiet because he’s not used to it? And sometimes, when I find his forgotten cups with dried 2-day-old spinach smoothie or 4-day-old bowls of muesli- the residue of which can be used for foundations of buildings, reality sinks in, and I nod knowingly. This is life, people. And it doesn’t stop, nay, it doesn’t even slow down for us to catch a breath. It just carries on, and the learning is in the living. Yes, he only knows how to cook scrambled egg and make smoothies of every description, but no-one has ever died of eating tuna rolls or chicken and mayo sambos repeatedly. The child will live, and the child will learn. Release and Surrender is my daily mantra. He’s just got his driver’s license. On Sunday, Heath and I went to the 9:30am church service, and Joshua drove to the 11:00am service with his brothers. Surreal. Then he had to buy rolls on the way home, and he messaged me, what kind of rolls- hot dog, baguettes, or the round ones? I messaged back, whatever kind you want! This independence thing- quite confusing and thrilling, all at the same time. I wish I had read more books to him, I wish I had stopped to listen more frequently, made more eye contact, hugged a bit longer, and not nagged quite so much. But I’m making myself cry now and so I need to go to God and take my regrets out of my pockets (again) and had them over to Him. My inadequacies as a mother, indeed, my failings. God has promised to Joshua that he will work all things together for his good, because Joshua loves Him and is called according to His purpose. Thank God. He’s got a lot of work to do on Joshua’s behalf. It’s good to know he’s in good hands.
To add to the craziness of the ride, Joshua has begun to date. Nothing to do with a new smoothie ingredient, a calendar, or getting old. As in, a girlfriend. Gasps of shock and horror, mostly from the people who were in the same room as me a year ago when I had a ten minute rant about how Joshua would never date (well, okay, not NEVER but almost never; at least not now…) because he was in Matric, the exam pressure is intense, and dating was just a distraction, and then he’s doing a 4 year degree far far away! And besides, one shouldn’t date until one is ready to get married, otherwise, what’s the point? Kissy kissy and raging hormones? Dangerous! Heath and I were well versed in the dating vs courting-to-get-married manuscripts. Heck, I was the one who read all 19 books pertaining to the subject and then compiled a 3-day teaching course on it to teach within our church. It’s much easier, by the way, to live by ‘law’ because it’s so black and white. Grace, however, gets confusing because then you have to deal with people’s weaknesses, and exercise forgiveness, and maybe even operate in love. Horrors! I completely relate to the Pharisees, because I surely would also struggle with Jesus going against what the Law said about doing work on the Sabbath. They were incredulous when he was healing on the Sabbath, because the Law said: Sabbath- no work. No mixy of clay, no touchee of sick people, no carry of mat. They figured, perfectly logically to my Pharisaical brain, that he couldn’t be the Messiah because he was breaking the Law! Now the Bible doesn’t say thou shalt not date-eth ’til thouest be of marriage age, and have-est an abode containing your own doubleth bed; and furthermore, be able to cooketh more than scrambled eggs. But we did come out of a lot of teaching of the law side of things, and so this is new territory for us. Chatting to Heath about the Pharisees freaking out on the Sabbath, and how I would also freak out, he said what he loved about Jesus was that He saw into the Spirit of the situation- not just that the guy was sick, but the deeper spiritual need, deeper even than obeying the Law that was put into place – he brought the higher law of love and grace. But anyway, I could copy and paste my 20 page no-datee document right here, but I find it no longer applies in its totality.
Joshua told us he wanted to date Celine.
We then spent the next week in the courtroom of our bedroom, each night having long discussions with Joshua and finding out what his intentions were, what level of hormones he was experiencing, making sure he was using his grey matter and not his gonads, and that he was thinking about boundaries to protect them both. We then agreed that if Joshua read the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harrison, then we would discuss further if he still wanted to pursue this. Yes, we’re extreme. Well, the man-child read the book in TWO days. (It wasn’t a booklet, it was a 238 page book, no pictures.) He then wrote a 6 page book report (A4, lined, no pictures) on his thoughts about it. Yes, he’s extreme. He said he agreed with a lot, but also was looking at things from the other side of the coin as well. So court was resumed, and I felt like the jury. Heath would give his view, and I’d be like, Geez, that’s gonna convince him, for sure! That’s really good. Then Joshua would counter (he does want to be a lawyer, you know) and I’d be like, Dang! I think I agree with that! And back and forth it went. It was crazy. We should’ve taped it and marketed it for How to Discuss Dating with your Man-Child. Heath is such a good dad, and Joshua is such a good son, and it was such a good discussion. But Joshua’s closing statement was, I still want to do it, Dad. I want to learn how to do this properly with your and mom’s blessing. He’ll surely make a good lawyer, right? So t’was agreed and the Stewart Constitution was adjusted, and our prayers for Joshua now extend to another person. She is an exquisite, extremely precious one. He then planned a huge #AskHerToBeMyGirlfriend event, complete with handmade Pinterest-eat-your-heart-out paper flowers to her favourite colour theme, and completely corny poems and mush. Three days later, he went with her to her Matric dance, and life and learning continues. No bus stops, no technical breaks, just keep living, and learning as you go. They even scrapbook together, for heaven’s sake. Who’s gonna say no to a scrapbooking duo? Clearly, there shall be more of our Celine in future updates.
So. Joshua has found accommodation in Noordhoek- bedroom, bathroom, sink and counter to prepare food, blinds all in, separate entrance, electric gate. The homeowner is a 60-ish lady who substitute teaches (she did UNISA degree. See how God likes fitting things together? Amazing) and is a motherly, sweet woman. Her children are grown, husband works abroad a lot. 7 minutes from Joshua’s school.
Seriously, I told you he was in good hands.
May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,