Swirling in my head from watching Grey’s last night is this line:
“You’re her mom. You do what you think is best for her.”
That is a loaded comment. And it guarantees nothing. Even if you make all the most perfect decisions and the best calls for your children, they are still going to do exactly what we did at their ages – whatever THEY CHOOSE. We can plant the seeds, we have the power to nurture and water those seeds, pour out the sunshine rays of love and grace and provision on them, and we can fight tooth and nail in prayer, because we’ve been given the heavy and sacred gift and calling of “parent”, but we cannot control the outcome – and we cannot take them from the grip of God.
I needed this reminder from Grey’s last night. Every day, really. It’s good to know that God knows my heart and still trusts me to raise these babies in my best wisdom which pales in comparison to His. I forget I’m his choice sometimes. I will never understand His ways in choosing me for them, but more than anything in this life, I want to do the mom thing well. Just like any other mom, I want to be the very best mom I can be for these little lives God place in my heart and home. They are my #1 priority and I’m responsible for raising up, training up, praying up, and then letting them fly. There is not greater joy, no heavier load to carry in life. Even though we know – they are HIS, He has GOT THEM, what we do still matters or we wouldn’t be here doing life with them. It’s a crazy balance of freedom in trust and faith that my God is also their redeeming, providing, comforting, loving God, and, also He has called me out to be His hands and feet, His words and love to them on Earth.
My heart was shredded recently by some decisions my girls made that pretty much wrecked life as they knew it. As we all knew it. What started off as breaking some rules turned into expulsion and then involved two days of not knowing where my daughter was. I have not known fear and panic and brokenheartedness like this before. It’s too much to detail here, but there was anger, and horrific sadness and desperate fear, and so many conversations, so many details and pieces to put together, and so much work of repair lay ahead. All I know and all I could feel was paralyzed. My girls broke my heart. They sabotaged their own blessings… their freedom, their education, their phones, cars, friendships, all came to a schreeching halt. Sabotaging blesssings… sound familiar? It’s painful and yet simple – my girls are phenomenal young women, yet, in this instance, although they knew better, they chose otherwise. Been there. But watching it unfold for them wrecked me. We can handle the pain we choose, but watching the consequences & the pain our loved ones go through is so much worse. The aftermath has been almost paralyzing. Many days just breathing has been laborious for me. All my priorities and appointments and plans got swiped off the table in an instant, I no longer cared about anything but them. Instead of living our best lives, we’ve been picking up the pieces of crappy sin consequences. We are faced with a lot of changes that include a shift in just about every aspect of life – relationships, work, schools, daily routines, and so much more that it’s almost overwhelming at times.
It’s pretty darn beautiful, too. I look at my calendar that used to be full of appointments and classes and events, and it’s almost empty. All my weekly clients and dance classes and coffees, are gone or fading. All that is left is just wide open space to be with them… I can’t see yet what will fill those hours, but I can feel it.
I cannot deny the glimpses of Romans 8:28 I am seeing all over this deal. While the details are not yet confirmed, it looks like they could end up in seats I never dreamed possible, or would have considered for them, and without this combustion of life, we would have never known the things that came to light. Now, we know. Now, we can adjust, we can revise the plan and have the conversations that weren’t happening before. Now, we can see clearly the attacks of the enemy on our children and fight with clarity and focus.
I am learning some things about parenting teens, that I’d like to share in case you need some reminders today or someday. I’m still learning, but I have a few truths that have slapped me in the face lately, and I am positive they will change the course of my own parenting journey.
1. Get in the boat with them.
This is different than them being in the boat with you. This is not a done deal just because you may be a stay at home mom. I went to grad school not to make a lot of money and only partially to help others, but MOSTLY to be home and available when my kids are not in school. But, just because you’re with your kids does not mean you’re present at the deepest level. We have errands and work from home and phones and even so many activities that we can still miss the most intimate connections and yet be right there in their faces. I have chartered the waters in a way that we can be together, but I have not often stepped out of my boat to be in theirs. I didn’t even know they had their own, I wasn’t prepared for us to be already sailing in different directions, I thought I had another year or two before they jumped ship. Now, I know. I used to tell Jacey that whenever she leaves home I’m going with her. If you’ve heard me share the principal of “abandon your plans of escape – be where you are” then you get me. This principle is not always so simple, but I know with them, wherever they are, that’s where I want to be. My boat isn’t going anywhere. I’m getting in with them.
2. You have to make a way for them to do what they are passionate about, or they will get bored and find other things to do.
Yeah, duh, right? We travel and get massages and pedis and enjoy lots of things, but I have missed some “bids” as Gottman would say. A missed bid in marriage is when one spouse says something that would warrant an intentional and purposeful response from the other, but the other spouse misses it and thereby misses an opportunity for intimacy, growth, and for connection. I missed Ja’nee’s bid about the clarinet and had I paid more attention she would be on her 3rd year of lessons by now. I missed Jacey’s bid on horses and cowboy hats and acceptance in the way she needed it from me. Don’t get me wrong – catching bids may not have changed the course for them, but knowing better, I do better. It matters to me.
3. Accept them where they are, just as they are, or they will keep parts of themselves from you.
I totally thought I was doing that, just like the dozens of mother’s I’ve spoken with recently, but turns out we make these faces and have these tones that suggest to our children they could always be doing better or that they missed the mark on something that actually does not matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Don’t make your child put her cowboy hat in the closet for you. Rock your flat bill, and buy her 10 10 gallons in 10 different colors. Whatever it takes for them to know they are accepted unconditionally.
I’m not done learning, I can feel a couple more hard lessons coming, but if I don’t process a little along the way I’m going to die from stress related medical conditions or just not breathing from a broken heart. I have gotten some glares in sharing these things the last couple weeks – loving glares warning me not to go to a place of shame, and also plenty of “suggestions” and “opinions” that the enemy would love for me to wear like filthy rags of regret – not happening. I promise you I do not blame myself for their poor decisions. It’s not that if I had been a better mom they would not have done this or that. It’s not uncommon for me to be up before the sun praying fiercely for my children, taking off from professional things to be where they are or having deep conversations with them about every thing under the sun. But, when I asked God to make me exceptional this year at all things, He had to bring some things to light to take me deeper into prayer and further into their boat.
I’ve shut down my life as I know it for a while, closed out clients, cancelled speaking events, stepped away from teaching dance and so many other things. I was already very available and “present” and around my kids – some of it was quality, some of it was just them in my boat while I was steering my agenda. My every day was already scheduled with my children in mind and yet God is in my face with His pruning shears (see the next post). It’s not convenient when your teens lose their damn minds smack dab in the center of living your dreams, but man is it free-ing to be able to hop in and say, truly, “nothing is more important than you for me. I’m here. Really, fully, here. Not hovering above or pushing from behind, but next to you along for the ride. I’m in the boat baby girl(s) and I have nowhere else to be than you, nothing else to take care of than you and not a dang thing more important than you and your heart, right now.”
Yes, as was suggested to me by a friend, I think it’s important to actually say the words, not just do the shifting and shaking of your life. Tell them it’s for and about them. They matter enough to let everything else go. Say it out loud. What would it have been like to heart that as a child? Especially when the enemy tries to use the gift of adoption to somehow sit us in fears of rejection and labels like unchosen. Bullshit. Our children need to hear us say it. They are SO CHOSEN.
All of this may not make total sense, it’s a whirlwind in my head and heart but it’s getting clearer to me and that’s what matters. It’s not yet fully redeemed and reconciled, it’s still muddy and filled with ache, but I am certain writing is my deepest way to get out and process heavy pain and I have big things to close out this week like recital and the last few meetings before I go into mode THEM, and getting it out helps. It does. If you have a thing and it’s in the way of all your other things, get your process done and quit living around it. If you know you need to write, then write right now. If you know you need a session, call your therapist, and if you know you need to send a text, send it. Process or be paralyzed.
And be selective of who you let in because let me tell you, when the crap hits the fan at home – judgements and summations by others who may see you only online or ever see your children less than once, twice or even ten times in 365 actual 24 hour days of a single year – and have no real clue as to the things that your children truly feel, their loss they could never understand, what they have experienced or laugh about, cry about, confide in you about and wonder about – the easily spoken words by those from a distance are none of your business. The loudest shots are always taken from the cheap seats. God knows He has taught me too much to open that gate. Boundaries have saved my life. Doing what I love has saved my life. And stepping away from it all for a season will hopefully save my girls’ lives. My girls are not like yours or anyone else’s. They are not even much like me. They have their own stuff, their own brokenness, their own curiosities and tendencies, strengths and weaknesses and I’m here for it all. I’m more curious about them than ever before and all I know is, God called me among all women to them, I may not get it all right but they are covered in prayer and love and grace and provision and more than anything or anywhere in this life – every day I’m getting in the boat with them.
I am sure I’ll be back to edit and add to this… it’s just a glimpse from the beginning of a new journey for now. In the meantime please take the time to read the post after this. The two perspectives / lessons are incomplete alone. As always, please feel free to share, I love your feedback & appreciate your taking the time to read these heavy words of mine.
When in doubt, mom it out. ❤
*Thx for this card cover and the words of life inside from my Kari who always sends the best letters right on time.