There are many a day that I can’t help but wonder aloud to God – what are you doing? I know that the answer to this question is not mine to have. I may be privvy to some of the how’s and why’s of my life some day but I don’t require them, nor does God assure me that I will have all of the answers in my life here on earth.
My latest “what on earth…” is mothering a middle schooler. To be fair, my middle schooler is fantastic. mostly. He’s not sneaky or malicious. He listens when we tell him he can’t play the video games that his friends do and that he is not yet old enough to have his own facebook account. He understands that if he doesn’t work hard in school privileges will be taken away and he doesn’t even fight against these. much. Believe me when I say we aren’t grading him on a curve. If we were, compared to much of what I’ve seen out there he would be considered angelic. But I can’t compare him to other kids. I need only hold his life (as I hold mine) up against scripture and parent according to that. It’s all I can do.
What I’ve realized lately though, is more about me than about him. Apparently this whole parenting a pre-teen is as much part of my sanctification as him being mothered is for him. I’ve learned (and really, I knew it all along but who wants to admit their shortcomings?!) that I like to be in control. As a mother to infants or even 3 year olds I found this to be quite simple because all that I did all day was explain to them what I wanted them to do. It started out from their first day home from the hospital when we laid out, not so much in spoken terms but in action, that when you are put in your crib with your soother, you sleep. All of my children learned this eventually. Some were quicker than others but even the strong-willed boy got it by 4 months old.
Likewise when they were toddlers my days were spent teaching them their please’s and thank-you’s and molding them into the little citizens of the Fast house that we required them to be. I was really the Chief Executive Officer of a smooth running corporation and my husband, the president. We trained the littles to wash their hands, to tie their shoes, to say sorry when they hurt someone and to always, always share.
Here’s the thing though, as they get older they are able to speak! (I know! It shocked me too!) They have their own thoughts, their own opinions and their own interpretations and while to anyone who would have pointed this out to me I would have said, “of course!” I really didn’t believe it.
What I’m learning in this season is that my children are not thomas the tank engine trains that I can set upon the premade course of life and tell them to have a merry journey. They are individuals. Humans. Little people created in the image of God who do not just want (or need) to be controlled but need to be respected, loved, listened to and guided.
To my own shame I literally believe that their lives would be much simpler if they would just listen to me. But the problem is that then I would end up with a bunch of little me’s, complete with my faults and failures. But guiding is so much harder than just demanding and instructing a billion times trickier than telling.
I know that I need to unwrap my motherly tendrils from around my children just a little bit and allow them to flourish into the lovely humans that God has created them to be. But this means that I have to admit that control is a sin for me and that’s a hard one to admit. Actually, it’s not hard to admit, but it is hard to confess and seek to give up. It means apologizing, which I’m fine with – I do it all the time, but it also means that now they know, these little people. They know that I like to be in control and that sometimes sinfully so and then they’ll be able to point out when I’m doing it again and that’s the part I have a harder time with.
But I love them enough to do it. I love them enough to be a bit out of control and to watch them shine as well as err. I love them enough to be here to help put back together life’s pieces when things fall apart and I love them enough to let them know that I am far from perfect.
When I became a mom I didn’t ever think of this stage. This stage where I’m journeying through life as a christian alongside my children. That I would be able to encourage them in their walks and they too would be able to encourage me. To be able to share with them my sin and allow them to see that we are all in this together. We are all sinners saved only by grace – even mommy.
What a joy it is.