When being a parent sucks it totally sucks. I’m not talking about the physical demand of toddler-hood or the sleepless nights of infancy. That stuff is a cakewalk comparatively. It’s watching your older kids find their footing in the world when they choose a hard path. When they stumble but don’t want your help or input. When your council, no matter how high-caliper your experience, is rejected and thrown out like trash. When you remember how ignorant YOUR own parents seemed in your teenage-mind and you KNOW that the rebellious streak that ran through you flows fresh through a child you bore. The part that takes great faith is trusting that boldness of spirit will be harnessed for GOOD (eventually) while you wade through the here and now.
Now don’t get me wrong – teens are amazing-all of them. Some are super easy to be around, totally chill and can make you feel like you are doing everything RIGHT and give you the green light to pat yourself on the back… Then there are others who can squash that prideful feeling in an instant. It is a humbling to say the least, but the latter is more than likely better for the the character of the parent in some sense. Maybe God needs to weed out even more pride in my heart because there are certain children in my flock that tend to eagerly volunteer help Him along with that task.
I am taking about a child who is so hard to love at times, but needs it like crazy at that exact moment. The one that you’ve poured so much of your sweat and tears into they could have filled oceans and your knees have callouses. The one who that you always come back for. The lost sheep that is precious to you even when they cause exhaustion, pain and second guessing.
In the last few weeks I have had deep conversations with several moms in the same season as I am in with my older kids and when they were surrounded in love and grace have opened up that their teen has/is making decisions that go against what they would choose for them. I am among those mothers too.
The thing is not one of us is a perfect mother, but most of us are great ones. I am definitely not a perfect mother, but I am a pretty damn good one. I have provided a super stable and uncomplicated home for my kids to grow up in. I love the tar out of my kids. I am married to a man (their dad) who is involved and loves his family and his wife like a hero. Our family attends a good church and we have brought our kids up teaching them about God’s love for them. We’ve offered them opportunities and adventure and love in abundance. We have required them to participate in chores and eat most meals together gathered around a table built for ten. But still. Our children can choose unwisely in their naivety. This can tempt us to go down the road of:
“How did this happen?”
“This isn’t fair!”
“I’ve done everything ‘right’
When we reduce our child’s outcome (GOOD or BAD) to what WE did or didn’t do we prop ourselves as an idol. We elevate ourselves to mini-gods that hold the reins to the paths our children will take. We remove God’s sovereignty. We remove his power to make broken beautiful and to make beautiful broken without our insight or approval.
If you have a child that has a wild spirit I am standing in solidarity with you, beside you, lacking any crumb of judgement or disapproval – filled only with compassion and grace. If all of your children have complacently followed your lead, please don’t judge or offer suggestions or advise- instead offer grace and prayer… and maybe a girls night out with a margarita included… #justsaying. This is something that is mighty humbling. Something that has no place for ugly pride especially among sisters. Before assumptions start mounting nothing disastrous has happened in my family and in the big picture it is small-scale, but if you’re a mother with a love for a child who is struggling you can respect that each and every incident in important in your eyes. While I’d love to lay out the details so you better understand, the story of my child’s journey to maturity isn’t fully mine to tell and I respect that. “Not all stories belong on social media.” (I stole that from a good friend of mine, Hannah Hagarty) This child’s story isn’t even close to being finished and I don’t own the copyrights. I am opening up and being authentic and vulnerable in a very public way only to say even when a family is happy and well and amazingly awesome (because my family IS all of those things) it doesn’t mean there isn’t trials and lessons and background noise happening. Respect that social media most of the times tells partial stories – because like I said before some stories are not ours to tell. Also know that all families have struggles – Nothing worth having ever comes easily. But struggle is what strengthens us. God will use it. It will bring glory to His name. I may be in a full contact wrestling match with God some days and fighting the good fight, but I choose to be a faithful parent in ways I have control and trust Him to handle the things which are out of my control. While some days I feel worn thin I am honored He chose me- He saw me strong enough, wise enough and filled with enough grit, grace and endurance- to meet this task. What breaks you makes you stronger because He is the glue that puts all the pieces back together.