i spend a lot of time thinking about mothering & assessing how i think it’s all going. not unlike most every other mother on the planet right? with four completely different temperaments & personalities in my four teenage/young adult daughters you can imagine this stage of parenting has been the most exciting, painful, complicated, and rewarding of all other stages. to me anyways.
my nursing degree might have served me better had i minored in psychology. but learning it all on fly has been the way parenting daughters has rolled out for me.
for the one that needs her space, have i given her too much & therefore she doesn’t feel seen or valued? for the tender teary one, have i validated her emotions or enabled an unhealthy behavior? for the quiet one, is she learning to just constantly take one for the team and stuff down deep and repress her emotions? does the snarky comment come from a heart full of bitterness towards me or is she just in a bad mood and mom is a safe target?
i think the biggest change in my own self i’ve seen while raising up girls is that i’ve become more of an observer and listener than the talking extrovert i was back in the day. while i’m naturally a reactive person, as my girls have grown up i have tried to loosen that a little bit at a time. i find myself pondering their words much of the time & choosing to say little or nothing at all when perhaps they were younger a comment or correction would have been appropriate. so i’m not quiet all the time but many times i find myself just listening and truth be told, they probably don’t even realize it.
here’s an example, when they were 7 or 15 and they’d make a snarky comment i’d call them out. once they hit that college age my corrective, train ’em stage needs to simmer way down. here’s another example. dan & i decided that when they hit their senior year that we would raise the curfew. ( & honestly i have a ridiculous memory so i can’t remember it anyway) when our girls head off to college there is a whole big world out there that stays up late and loads of other shenanigans as well. the girls need time to start making their own decisions while still under our roof and perhaps learning the consequences when those decisions aren’t so wise. on the flip side, showing them we trust them is monumental at this age. i don’t need to read every text or diary entry, over analyze facebook activity, or drive around at night and see where they are. truth be told, dan & i are sacked out before my older girls even roll in at night. i’m sure you younger moms are like what the sam hill is she even thinking? now hear me on this one, i’m not saying i close the book & check out of my parenting role before the college application is even sent. i’m just saying there’s a healthy time, often times its sorta grayish, when parenting needs to soften and become more stepping back and cheering from the sideline than walking in front of them and hoping they follow behind. make sense? maybe i’ll touch that one another day.
i recently told a young mama friend of mine, who incidentally is probably a much wiser mom than i despite her younger age, something huge i’ve gleaned over the last year or so of pondering mothering.
i am not jesus to my children.
i am to lead them to jesus. but i am not jesus.
i am to love out of a heart that desperately fails and will never get it all right all the time. i am to model a home and heart that is humble and messy and in need of a savior. i am not the savior. dan is not jesus ( a close second though). he is not the savior either. follow?
i think as our children hit the late teen years & perhaps young adult stage they realize mom & dad aren’t so perfect. while they never would have verbalized at age sixteen, wow my folks are the bombdigity and have it all together, something about realizing that mom & dad are just human and fail and mess up is almost license to be disappointed in them. just as we try to teach our girls to know that there is not a man out there that will “complete them” ( not a healthy/realistic role for anyone to need to fill but that is a sermon for another day) mom and dad aren’t either.
i have made more mistakes as a mama than i can even keep up with. i have yelled and said cuss words. i’ve forgotten an event and made soupy casseroles. i’m not slender & my car is not a luxury vehicle. i’ve said stupid things in front of their peers and apparently asked awkward questions “all the time” that i didn’t even know i was doing. i’m sure i’ve embarrassed them with how i dress or that i have too many cowboy boots. i’ve spent too much money or not spent enough. i’ve said too much or not said enough. i’ve not shown grace and i’ve demanded obedience. i’ve wanted order when they wanted messy. and then there’s “their reality” of a situation that is really not reality at all but in their mind it is. ya’ll. the list is endless. and of course it is.
i think i’ve felt the disappointment from them at times ( the times when i’m quiet & pondering instead of having to be the talker & corrector) when they realize we’re not perfect people. or that i’m not the perfect mom to them.
i hope as they head out on their own, despite all the times i’ve said and done the wrong thing, that they know that they know that they know, well…that they know JESUS. he is who “completes” them. he is the only perfect one. he is the restorer of the lost years. he sees & knows every hair on their head. he knows the hidden places of their hearts where things are tucked away and stored. he shows them how to love well, perfectly well. he shows endless forgiveness and unmerited grace. he longs to fill the broken cracks in the spaces of their hearts that were perhaps cracked by an imperfect mom or dad.
and that we’re just doing the very very best we can
and that they are loved & celebrated
and maybe one day, they’ll see that it’s been that way all along.