When You Expected to Have it All Nailed Down

Jolly Hormillosa // Tales From the Trenches


May 23  

My firstborn son is a high school graduate. This girl (me) is breathing in and out with fear like a new-mama Lamaze model. But it turns out, it is not about my ability to nail it down.

The contradictions are glaring, I spend our final school days breathing down his neck about the devil in the details. There are things that should have been done better. I should have had him do more. I should have done better. I should be more. “Enough already,” I tell myself. I try to loosen my white-knuckled grip as the days come to a screeching halt. My heart is a passion a good half the time with this firstborn son of mine. Will I surrender the expectation of perfection and my palpable fear of the unknown? Will I prepare room for more love?

I’m nearing the end of a season that, in my finite mind, begs for closure. I am the girl that birthed and raised a boy who now calls himself an adult. I have homeschooled. I have sat in nearly the same pew shoulder to shoulder with this boy-man at Mass every Sunday for years now. I have been determined to keep him close. I opened my heart and my womb.

I’ve been here before—this place where the only right-sounding word that can escape is “Abba.” “Father.” I am still the child, and yet also the mama. In a spirit of adoration, I am comforted by losing myself in his gaze. He is before me and behind me. He fights my battles, even and especially when I feel the heat lick my heels. He holds me safe when I am afraid. He holds my son. I repent and turn into his heart to find the quiet rest I know is more real than what is glaring in front of my face—more real than my lack, than my son’s lack. More real than the fear of letting go. It is from this place of knowing who I am in him that he asks me to take up my cross and say “yes” to his unknown plan. My fiat, though small, is the vital inlet to his grace that washes over the mess with exponential redemptive power.

God called me to be a mother, and my soul began a unique formation by way of my “yes.” The cross-to-resurrection feature began in the delivery room, and I soon discovered that it had only just begun. It is an everyday reality. It is here, too, on the last day of seven years of homeschooling. But with every cross, he is calling me to press my wounds to his nail-scarred hands and believe in the power of a passionate love. I don’t have to have it nailed down; my son doesn’t have to nail it. Jesus had it nailed; and now he has us.

In my vulnerable state, I am warmed that, out of a world of possibilities, Christ came as a child and that he came by way of our Blessed Mother. Salvation came by way of family, by the well-worn path I have been walking—the path of mother and son. I don’t have this nailed down. Jesus does. Graduation Day will come, and it will go, but it is his work of love that will be the saving of us—the highest accomplishment of all the work of our days.


Proclaim the Genius & Share!
  • So beautiful. So simple. So True.
    The Holy Spirit nailed it in this “tale from the trenches.”
    God bless you.

  • Thank you Jolly – my own “man-child” has two more years before leaving for college and so many of those same fears and anxieties fill my mind. Your words give me hope and remind me that God is in control and in the details. I need to surrender to God now so I can surrender my oldest man-child back to Him when the time comes.

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