Grace for the Middle
There has been a strange shift for me over the past few years in my blogging life. When I talk with other writer friends, I discover that I am not alone. Most of my friends who I have met through the online world are mothers and of course the inevitable has happened—our kids are growing older.
And as they grow older, it becomes more difficult to write about what we struggle with as moms, because while everyone can relate to the difficulty in parenting littles, teen struggles are much more personal. My kid’s personalities are more developed, so if I tell you that my teen is struggling with anger issues, it’s different than…
…and that’s where this attempt at a blog post ended almost a year ago. I never finished it, but when I opened my blog to write a new post today, I realized that I had already attempted to write on this very subject I have been contemplating all day. Turns out, these thoughts have been simmering for quite some time!
Having teenagers has become the biggest writer’s block of my life. Where once words came easily and poured out of me, I now find myself struggling to express how I am feeling. I flounder with words. I delete sentences. Then I delete some more.
And then an unfinished blog post sits in my draft folder for a year.
Having teenagers is lonely. I don’t want to betray their trust. Their stories are theirs to tell, not mine, but it doesn’t change the fact that just as I struggled through learning how to be a parent to a newborn, I am struggling to learn how to parent my kids who are growing more and more independent with every passing day. Not being able to process through writing has been hard.
My oldest got her permit and is asking me to drive. She’s going to a homeschool prom today. Prom!!! Her first international missions trip is happening this summer and she will be working at a camp as a counselor. I watch her spread her wings and while this is completely right and she is so ready for all of these things, I find myself reeling from the speed of it all as she rushes through life. I’m barely holding on.
My second born is growing into himself and it is equal parts thrilling and exhausting. He’s always been an incredibly sweet and thoughtful kid and I think I expected this to be true in his teenage years too. But he started taking logic classes (which he absolutely loves!) and while this is helping him to think critically which is good, he is starting to challenge every little thing. So my emotions fluctuate between being amazed at his growth and being frustrated with the unexpected teenage angst.
I observed a baby girl climbing the stairs to a slide yesterday at a playground and I caught my breath. Wasn’t it just yesterday when my oldest was that age? Later in the day, I cried as I listened to her sing a solo that she will be performing at a benefit concert this weekend. She has grown into a capable and confident young woman, but I still feel like I should be close by, making sure she doesn’t fall, looking to catch her eye to see her light up when she knows I’m there. I’m scared of the day when she no longer looks back to find me…
This is such a strange time, this “middle” between the years when they need us for everything and when they walk into the future God has prepared for them. I’m having to let go more and more, but the more I let go, the more I want to hold on.
When I remember to look for it, I am reminded that there is grace for this time. Grace that covers my failures and allows my kids to love me despite my mistakes. Grace that strengthens the bond between an easily exasperated mom and overly emotional teens rather than tearing them apart. Grace that allows all of us to see the beauty of God’s sweetness towards us.
May you continue to hold my dear ones close. Lead them and guide them through life. May they want to know you more and more and as they grow in the knowledge of you, show them how to love others well in spite of the difficulty and the suffering they will face. Give them integrity and humility. May they pursue you always and when they doubt, may they be willing to listen for your still small voice. May they never stop looking for you and may they be delighted with the knowledge that you are always there for them. Hem them in behind and before! I praise you for they are fearfully and wonderfully made!