Letting Go…but Not Giving Up

My life with my children has been a series of “letting go.”

I let go when you didn’t need me to rock you to sleep when you were an infant.

I let go when you didn’t need to hold my hand to stand and walk on your own.

I let go when you could hold the spoon to feed yourself.

I let go when you walked into preschool that very first day and waved goodbye.

I let go when you learned to write your name all by yourself.

I let go when we took the training wheels off your bike and you balanced on your own.

I let go when you started choosing your own friends in school without my help.

I let go when you stood on the stage in your first Christmas play and sang your heart out.

I let go when you spent the night at your first sleep over and didn’t need me to tuck you in.

I let go when you got on the bus your first day of middle school and rode bravely without me.

I let go when you didn’t get the grade you wanted and learned you had to work a little harder sometimes.

I let go when you had private conversations with your friends.

I let go when I learned I wasn’t necessarily privy to every corner of your life, and that privacy didn’t mean secrecy.

I let go when I gave you the keys to the car and you drove out of my sight only to return safely.

I let go when you went on your first date, and I prayed you’d make wise choices. You did.

I let go when your choices weren’t necessarily my choices, and that was okay.

I let go when holding on tighter would only strangle you and make me crazy.

I let go just far enough so that you would know I am always here, waiting, when you need to come running back, no matter how far you wander.

I let go in so many ways, but my love for you will never lose its strength.

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When Your Teen Doesn’t Share Your Beliefs Anymore

 

The following post is a reminder to myself in this season of my life and my teen’s life. But I thought someone else might benefit from it as well. I hope you can find some comfort in the following words if you’re experiencing growing pains of your own.

My child’s “unbelief” was pre-ordained. It’s only a surprise to me, not to God. He knew this was coming, and He knows the outcome.

It’s not my job to “convert” my child. It’s my job to guide and let God do the “converting.”

Forgive myself. It’s nothing I did wrong. Sometimes when your child is coming to their own conclusions, it means they are acting on their own. They are doing exactly what you taught them – to think on their own. They are maturing and thinking about what life means to them.

Don’t take it personally. Sometimes their unbelief is out of rebellion, but more often it’s out of discovery. Sometimes I think it can even be out of sheer laziness – they don’t want to be accountable to God, so they are taking the easy way out. It’s the “because I don’t want to” reasoning.

It’s a growing pain. Both my teen’s and my own. Just like growing out of dolls or playing with legos, they’re maturing and deciding what works for them. For me, it means learning to let go. They’re getting closer to adulthood, and my belief will not always be their belief.

The best thing I can do in this time of their life is to love them. It should be a time of “show” and not “tell.” Lecturing will only push them away. They need to know I love them. They need to know that my love for them doesn’t come with conditions like sharing a belief in God.

Let them experience Grace – mine and God’s. Forgive when they don’t deserve it, be kind to them just because. Really show them God’s love with how I respond to them.

Most importantly, this is God’s battle, not mine. I don’t have the ammunition or the army or the stamina to run the race with them, but God does. He’ll be there when they choose Him. And even if they don’t choose Him, God will love them in spite of themselves.

God tumbled down the walls of Jericho by having men walk around, time and time again He brought people out of despair and raised them up when they didn’t even know He existed. He waited while his followers groaned and walked through the wilderness for 40 years, and He was there every step of the way.

What makes me think He will not do the same for my child?

Take a breath and say a prayer and love your child. There is a time for everything under the sun. And now is a time to wait.

Parenting Teens – Unshakable Love

Parenting Teens

My oldest child is 16. Sixteen! How did that happen?!

It’s been an emotional roller coaster this last year. Lots of tears, lots of hurt feelings and misunderstandings, and lots of times when her father (who had no sisters) had no idea what he was in for.

I think we’re at a good point at the moment. I can’t say how long it will last, since emotions run high, and things seem to turn at the drop of a hat or the slam of a door.

I think parenting teens is so hard because we remember what we did as teens, and how much we didn’t tell our parents. We know what they’re probably doing when we aren’t around, or, thanks to technology, even when we’re in the next room.

I have a new slogan for my kids that I keep repeating:

“It isn’t what you do that makes me love you, it’s who you are. I will always fight for you…ALWAYS, even when we disagree.”

It’s sort of a mantra for both me and them. I want them to know there is nothing they can do to lose my love…NOTHING. There is also nothing they can do to EARN my love. I love them because they are my children. That’s it. It’s just that simple.

Let’s face it, there are going to be times when we will disappoint one another, but that disappointment will never make me turn away for them.

There will be times when we make each other really mad, maybe too mad to even speak. But they can’t shake my love.

Day After Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was yesterday, and I hope it was a happy one for you!

Without going into details, mine was a little less than disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I have wonderful kids and I love them very much, but sometimes our expectations exceed our reality.

I saw lots and lots of pictures on Facebook of friends and relatives that had picture-perfect Hallmark-worthy Mother’s Day festivities. Congratulations! You deserve it!

And then I read a friend’s post that smacked of Mother’s Day reality and it made me laugh out loud.

It was such a fabulous juxtaposition to the flowers, and chocolate covered strawberries, and Mother’s Day brunch that we’ve grown to expect.

The truth of Mother’s Day is that no matter how well-planned your festivities may be for Mother’s Day, we never stop wearing our Mom-Hat. We never let down our guard.

Lucky is the woman who gets breakfast in bed, goes a whole day without breaking up a fight, and doesn’t have to coordinate the whole thing herself.

That same friend’s post at the end of the day was this:

 

But I did see in the comments that her friends came to her rescue and they ended up going out for drinks at the end of the night. So, the lesson here? We’re all in this together. And if you felt let down because you saw all the posts on Facebook of “perfect celebrations” don’t worry about it. You didn’t see what was going on behind the scenes. You didn’t see what it took to get everyone to sit down together and pose for the picture. You didn’t see the dessert that was spilled just before the picture was taken. And you didn’t see the mess in the closet or thrown under the bed in preparation to get ready for Mother’s Day.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day and here’s hoping it was as “perfect” as every other mom’s day was. Blessings!

A Letter to My First Born

To My First Born Child,

There’s a reason you’re called the “first born,” and it’s not just because you’re are first in the lineage of my children. It’s because you got the “first” of everything, both the good and the bad.

You are the one I have the most pictures of. There are pictures of your first smile, your first coo, your first toy, your first visit with grandparents, your first ‘Mommy and Me Class,’ your first “friend” before you even knew what a friend was, your first taste of green beans that you hated (and still do). There’s a picture of the first time you fell asleep on your Daddy’s chest, and the first time you went on the potty. Don’t worry, we’ll destroy that one before you get your first boyfriend.

I’ve had the most time with you which means for the first three years of your life, you had ALL my attention, the good and the bad.

You’re my “experimental” child. The Beta-Child, if you will. I had no idea what I was doing when you came along, so I screwed up…a lot. I’m still screwing up.

When you were very young, I told you “no” and you listened, and I thought it was MY good parenting. I had no idea it was because you were an easy baby. Now when I tell you “no” you don’t always listen, and I attribute it to YOUR temperament and not my bad parenting. See how that works? (Just kidding)

You were the first one through the horrible middle school years. I knew what was coming, having experienced middle school myself (a lifetime ago), and so I could commiserate with you. You are also the first one to reach high school, and I’m terrified that I’m going to forget to make sure all your testing is done, all your credits are reached before you get to college. But I somehow got through it, and so will you.

So, I feel the need to apologize for screwing up, but also rejoicing that we have learned together. I hope you won’t end up in therapy when you’re older for all the mistakes I’ve made.

For the Beta-Child, you’ve turned out pretty good. I’m proud of the woman you’re becoming, despite my errors in parenting.

Thank you for being patient with me. We’ve got a long way to go, and I still have a lot to learn.

Chasing Christianity

My fellow blogger over at Insanity Bites inspired this post. She is one of the most thoughtful Christian bloggers I know. You should check her out when you get a chance.

IB recently wrote about being a “Martha” and working hard for our Christianity and how Jesus’ didn’t want Martha to work hard but pointed out that her sister, Mary, was doing the right thing by sitting at Jesus’ feet, not being distracted by the “chores” of the world (I’m paraphrasing).

I find more and more that the distractions and the “chores” of the world are what keeps me from Jesus. I’m not putting the blame on the chores, mind you, but I am simply pointing out that with information coming in at a thousand thoughts per second, it’s enough to keep any brain, especially my simple one, from keeping my eyes on Jesus. I’m so busy “accomplishing things” that I forget why I’m here in the first place. It feels some days like I’m “chasing Christianity.”

Believe me, I don’t profess to be a Biblical scholar, or a pastor or teacher. I don’t profess to have all the answers, or even some of them. And I certainly don’t pretend to be a “perfect Christian.” There’s only One of those, and I assure you it isn’t me. But I know I am forgiven, and I know where I stand with God.

There are countless Christian books about pursuing holiness, stopping anxiety, practicing Godliness, etc. All of which declare the rules for a “happy Christian life,” for “chasing” the Christian dream.

Don’t’ get me wrong, there is nothing bad about pursuing a better way to live your life and if that involves Jesus then more power to you. But I think we can get caught up in the “doing” instead of the just “being.”

God loves all humans whether or not they love Him back. He’s kind of funny that way. He’s got more love in His pinky toe, than I have in my entire body. If I challenge that belief about myself, I will fail every single time.

And that’s where grace comes in, and Mary’s example.

Once you’re forgiven, you’re forgiven…it’s signed, sealed and delivered. I am grateful for grace, because without it, I’d really be in trouble. Remember how I said I’d fail every time? Well, I do…daily, hourly even.

You know those signs you see on the walls of factories that say “_____ Days Without an Accident?” Well, I think as Christians we should have a sign on our wall at home that should say “_____ Days Without a Sin.” It would be a good reminder that we can’t go without sinning, but also that Jesus’ grace covers over those sins.

Grace is a gigantic part of the Christian faith, and of my Christian walk. I don’t always say the right things, I don’t pray out loud very well, and I don’t speak “Christian-ese.” I don’t bubble over with Jesus’ love for others like I should. Injustice makes me mad, rude people frustrate me, I get discouraged when my kids won’t listen to me, and I get upset with myself when I don’t always have the right response to a situation. And that’s my fault.

But I do have grace to rest in. I do have a heart for God and a desire to do better. And I do want to rest at Jesus feet more than clean the house for Him. That I can guarantee.

“Chasing Christianity” is exhausting, and often leaves me breathless and tired. “Chasing Jesus,” however, gives me rest, and puts my heart at ease. Maybe it’s time to stop chasing and let Jesus catch me instead.

Have a Happy Easter! He is Risen indeed!

Bringing “Because I Said So” Back

There have been only a few times during parenting when I’ve felt completely lost and wishing I had a manual. One of those times was during “Potty Training.” That seems like a lifetime ago (my kids are 15 and almost 12), but I will never forget feeling like I had no clear answer. I remember trying the old fashioned way of using plastic training pants, you know, the kind our mom’s used on us? But that only led to one child who would secretly sneak off to the corner of a room and piddle on the floor. The child knew exactly what they were doing. They just didn’t want to use the potty to do it in.

We tried “Pull-Ups” for the other child, but that just seemed to prolong the process, because that child had no problem walking around in a wet diaper. It just didn’t bother them.

We tried cheerios in the toilet for the boy, we tried reward charts, and candy and treats until I was beside myself. But the final outcome, I decided, was they were going to do it when THEY decided when they were ready. No amount of books I read, or methods I tried would push them into using the potty. It had to come from THEM not me.

The other time I felt truly like a ship without a rudder is now…during the Teenage years.

Nobody tells you this is coming. I think it’s sort of like labor pains, or potty training. No amount of explaining to a parent what it will be like until you’re right there in the thick of it will prepare you. You can’t read enough books, or enough blogs…it just sort of blind-sides you.

The only thing parents can do is support each other, and laugh through the tears as we’re fumbling in the dark. Because, I’ve got news for you…YOU’RE KID DID NOT READ THE MANUAL. Which leads me to my revelation – sometimes “because I said so” is a perfectly acceptable answer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s the ONLY answer. But there will be times, when your teen will want an explanation as to why they aren’t allowed to do something, and the answer just needs to be “because I said so.” Because to go into a long drawn out explanation will only prolong the argument, add to the hurt feelings, and increase the difference of opinion.

There are times when giving them a long explanation will only cause them (and you) to dig their heels in further. Nothing you can say will change their mind. They won’t magically realize that you know better, and suddenly agree with your opinion.

In those moments, has your teen ever said, “You know Mom, what you say makes a lot of sense and I agree that going to the party with my friend could be a bad decision. Thank you for saving me from my own poor judgement.” Yeah…that’s NOT going to happen.

Instead, you’ll get, “You just don’t trust me!” That seems to be a favorite comeback. And it usually escalates from there.

So, in certain circumstances, where I know we won’t come to an understanding, I think saying “Because I said so” is a perfectly fine parental answer. They won’t like it, and will probably try to push the issue, but you don’t have to buy into their argument.

Our jobs, as parents, is to love them and guide them, and if “because I said so” is the best answer I can give for the moment, then I’m going to use it. And I’m not going to feel guilty for doing so.

What do you think: do you ever use “because I said so?”