It’s a rough time to be a mom. Our babies have long since learned to walk, talk, and run. The days of diapers and bleary eyed hands-on-care lie behind us. We’ve walked through the terrible two’s and learned that “NO” isn’t the harshest word a child can say. We loved footy pajamas, dandelion bouquets, and juice boxes. We washed spring days out of their hair and their clothes, and their necks. We struggled to figure out motherhood as the days rushed past. We were sure the never-ending needs would wring us dry… and they often did. We clung, controlled, pushed and pleaded on this white knuckle ride.
They played football, baseball, softball, flute, Anne Frank, and the drums. Our days turned into a rolling rally filled with pick ups and drop offs. The minivan pulled up to the curb and packs of kids would jump in, kids who couldn’t quite remember how to get home. Days at the beach, lake trips, YMCA after school and Friday open swims, summer sleep away camps, fine free Wednesdays at the library, and lots and lots of dinners at the football field. The minivan filled with memories, empty yogurt cups, and trash. We tried to build not only bodies, but souls along the way. We grew fast and strong, and so did the piles of laundry. We wanted to be “that mom,” but often found we were “just enough- mom.” We yelled and cried, we pushed against their demands or gave in. Our words bit at them or laid them low, when they needed a soft word, and we missed vital moments in the press and hustle of life.
Slowly, our cars began to empty and the driveway filled. There was never enough gas or food to go around. Late night doors slamming, or sneaking, or not coming in at all. Movies and video games, fights about homework. We ran hard at things that mattered, church and Youth Group, missions trips and youth rallies. We listened hard to what they said and what they did and we stayed in the fight on days we wanted to give up. They wanted to soar and we wanted to keep them safe. We saw ourselves in their lives, and feared that they missed important things. That they caught who we are, not who we wanted them to be. They walked across the stage and we thought the hard work was done. Fresh faced in caps and gowns with family to clap and cheer… we thought we crossed the finish line.
Now I know, launching children into adulthood happens not in a moment, but over the course of many years. They move on, find their footing and their voice, take steps, and fall flat. We see them moving forward, or holding back, stuck or spinning out of control. Too often, we can’t help but allow it to become a reflection of us. We magnify the weaknesses and fear their next steps. We hope they will find love, purpose, and fullness in life. We loved them, and served, and tried… but we fear, in the quiet of our hearts, that we weren’t quite enough. We see our secret sins in their lives, our weaknesses walking. Will they find a way forward? Will they take care of themselves? Will they make it in the wide world? We celebrate each victory and hit our knees in both thanksgiving and agonizing need.
Here in the after-childhood time, we watch and wait and love. Here tears crash into our hopes and fears, but there is comfort to be found with others who are walking this path. Whispered confessions, tender acknowledgment, and quiet prayer. We commit to loving them as they are today, and praying for their here and now, as well as for their tomorrows. We are learning that maybe mom doesn’t always know best. We are learning to trust. We are simply learning. Together, we share the burdens and the heartaches and celebrate each victory. So, it’s a rough time to be a mom, but it’s okay. Maybe, though motherhood here doesn’t look like we imagined, we might just keep living and loving and growing. Maybe they are right where they need to be, and so are we.