Time is a funny thing. It zips by when you want to hold on to it most and drags when you’re in a hurry. Lately, I feel
Me, Steve, and Ash on our way to tour School of the Mines in Colorado
as if I’ve been in the zip stage. In fact, the clock started ticking louder the moment our daughter started touring colleges. She has one more year. One more year of family dinners, of guaranteed family vacations, of her coming into my room at night to sit on my bed and dialogue with me about all she’s learned and experienced and all she hopes to become.
When she first entered high school, I heard a lot about “empty nesting” and how difficult it could be. Funny thing, I never understood it. I thought it was about a mother not having ways to occupy her time or, having centered her identity in parenting, now felt empty and without purpose.
But as my daughter grows, I’ve gained a new understanding. It’s not about losing the what but the who. It’s about releasing a child
you adore with your entire heart, releasing those moments of your day you cherish most, knowing this relationship will soon become one of periodic phone calls and occasional visits.
I know this is a normal part of life–this leaving; maturing; launching into adulthood. In truth, it’s what my husband and I have spent years–her entire lifetime–preparing her for. We’ve prayed, read umpteen parenting books, sought wise counsel from others, at times asked for help. In everything, we’ve done everything we knew to do to help her reach this stage and beyond.
And yet, that’s not entirely true, that we’ve done everything we knew to do to help her, for there were times, many, that I failed. That I let selfishness creep in, choosing the convenient over the best. There were times when my selfishness infected my attitude and my words. There were times when my mistakes and weaknesses caused her pain.
We’ve all done it, and we’ll do it again, because were imperfect, selfish beings. But that’s where humility comes in: dialoguing with our children openly (and age-appropriately) about all those times when we’ve failed and asking them to forgive us. (I also suggest opening a therapy fund as soon as they’re born. Kidding. Sort of.)
That’s where prayer comes in, confessing our shortcomings to God and asking Him to buffer and strengthen our children’s hearts, using every struggle, every parental failure, every weakness for their good.
Because that’s what He’s good out–making beauty from our messes.
Moms, I have a feeling you can relate. None of us our perfect. None of us our patient 100% of the time. There’s no fail-proof book on parenting that promises if we do X, Y will occur, and though we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, much of the time we still feel like we’re playing a guessing game. Except this isn’t a game. In fact, it’s the most important job we’ll ever have. It’s the one area we hope and pray we won’t fail in. Then one day, our children stand at the door, bags packed, and we hope we’ve done enough.
Isn’t it great to serve a God who makes all things beautiful and who showers us and our kiddos with grace?
A God who loves our children even more than we do, who created every fiber and cell of their being, and knows exactly where they’ll be ten years from now and what they’ll need to get there?
A God who, though we want to hold tightly to these precious, growing children, gives us the strength to release them when that time comes.
Oh, my do I love that child!
Happy Mother’s Day, my friends. If you’ve got kids at home, hold them time. Take the time to enjoy every giggle, every snuggle, every late-night awakening.
And moms of any age, I encourage you to read Eileen Rife’s post on Faith-filled Friends about letting go. You can read it here. Plus, return on Saturday to learn who one our May gift-basket!
If you’re getting tired of my “Time is Short” motherly posts, sorry! I’d say they won’t continue, but I have a feeling they will, growing all the more frequent as her graduation day appears. 😉
Let’s talk about this! If you are a parent, what are some of your most precious memories? What areas have been hardest for you to “let go”? How have you seen God redeem some of your shortcomings and blessings in your child/children’s lives?
Grown children, what are some of your most precious memories of you and your mother? I encourage you to call her or send a card listing telling her of three or four of them and why they meant so much to you. If your mom is not around anymore, I encourage you to share those memories with your children. Time passes quickly, but aren’t you glad we’ve been granted the gift of memories?
For those raising children, find a way to make a memory this week.
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