Bless this wondrous mess


The entire eight days GirlWonder was on vacation I prided myself on how well I was handling her absence.

I applauded my ability to not obsessively text her more than once a day tops. Unless we were discussing prom dress styles and then it might have gone up to two dozen. When a person needs to discuss mermaid versus bustle, she needs answers now.

That aside, I will state for the record that I am so glad we allowed GirlWonder to spread her wings and (literally) fly. Taking that flight with her fellow teenaged friend.

Spending a week in Florida, being what I hope was a good house guest and intrepid travel adventurer. Learning to navigate being with others for a solid week without her parents and older brother. It was all, as the saying goes, priceless. She was officially gone two and a half times longer than we had ever been apart before.

I do not know how people send children off to college. Here I realized that some of my littlest dreams could come true — and I hated it. I had often wondered if a bathroom sink could stay clean and shiny. No flat irons on the counter. No stray hair bands on the rim of the sink.

With her gone, her bathroom was shiny and spotless. There were no cute boots by the door, no bookbag on the table and our dining room chairs lacked the usual varsity jacket slipcovers (hers and CuteBoyfriend’s, naturally).

Honestly? It was awful.

As it turns out, with GirWonder on vacation the house stayed fairly tidy. She may be my greatest helpmate around the house, but she is also somewhat of a clutterbug (sorry sweetie). In her absence we didn’t have 15 different drinking cups, soccer cleats, cute shoes, scarves, and the faint scent of a specific cologne that all her friends recognize instantly under foot (and nose) at all times. I missed her fiercely every moment and hated the neat. Bless her mess indeed.


The day she was due to arrive home, I started counting the hours 24 hours in advance. I may be the only middle-aged woman you know to have texted my friends only one more sleep until the girls come home.

I planned a favorite meal, tidied an already clean house, remade her bed, fluffed up the comforter and all but put a mint on her pillow. I was so excited, I was practically vibrating. Her fellow traveler’s mother and I must have exchanged two dozen messages that day planning our attack on the airport.

(Dear Federal Agents and/or TSA: attack in this instance is a euphemism or metaphor. By attack I mean storm the airport with love in my heart, approach and press my face against the window until I see the plane safely land). I then planned to fling myself into the jetway and hug her until she distorted like a cartoon character. Or something like that.

Then came the first delay. Then the second delay. Then the tearful telephone call to tell me that they had canceled her flight. I felt myself deflate. As it would turn out, theirs was the only flight canceled that day. Of all the airlines and all the flights in all the airports why did it have to be hers? First came disappointment, then a (brief) detour into furious. I finally settled on a sort of sadness coupled with faith.

I was sorry our girl would be arriving a day later. I was sorry for the stress of the emotional ups and downs of her coming and going becoming a big fat nothing. All in all it could have been a pretty sad night. Instead, I decided to be grateful.


From the moment we even contemplated the trip, I had prayed, above all else, for safe travels. I am blessed with a village that sent prayer and good will for the girls and their well being.

How then could I be angry? As much as I wanted my littlest chick back in the nest, I wanted her safe even more. We had all prayed for a week straight, “Dear Lord, please protect them.”

A cancelled flight

A plane that, forever what reason, doesn’t take off may just be an answered prayer. How, after all, can we ask The Lord to look out and keep us safe and then question his methods when he does?

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