Guest Post today by a new friend of mine, Megan, I met at She Speaks two years ago!
Failure to Recognize the Launch by Megan
Nobody told me junior high (or middle school, or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods) is the first stage of launching a child into the world. Okay, maybe some folks tried, but apparently I didn’t hear them; or more probably, stuck my head in the sand.
When my firstborn turned thirteen a few months ago, I figured it was a milestone worth an extra “hoorah” or two, but possibly the end of mothering as I knew it? Say it isn’t so. I thought for sure I had at least another year or two to nurture, mold and preen my little bird; preparing him to take his first pre-meditated, calculated, micro-managed steps into the world. A world teeming with cell phones, social media, competitive sports, challenging classes and co-ed dances. A world with an obvious lack of – well, me.
Turns out – I don’t.
How did I fail to realize, as I teetered between sappy smiles and tender tears at my son’s sixth grade graduation last May, I was effectively handing him over to the world? How did it not occur to me that right then and there, we were approaching liftoff? The control tower was waving him onward and I was oblivious.
My husband and I spent the first decade of our marriage walking alongside adolescents in a ministry called Young Life; meeting them “where they were” and “earning the right to be heard.” No judgment, just love. We assured these maturing high-schoolers of God’s and their parents’ unconditional love for them. Their parents did love them, we promised. Tight rules and hard-nosed conversations were just their generational, protective way of showing it.
Friends not foes – that’s what we strove to be. I secretly believed we were right in the middle of the perfect training ground for eventually raising our own teenagers one day. And we were. Sort of. It’s just that the kids we hung out with weren’t our kids. And we weren’t their parents.
Apparently that’s a thing.
When I was pregnant with my aforementioned firstborn, I devoured any information I could get my hands on about pregnancy and my changing body. Along with eating everything in sight, I ravenously read books promising details about what I should know at every. single. solitary. stage of his little life. When he was just a plus sign on a pregnancy test, I signed up for weekly emails describing how my sweet pumpkin was morphing from the size of a pea to a coffee bean and beyond – way beyond.
Once he entered the world with shouts of “joy” (at least that’s the positive spin I chose to give it), I was a complete hormonal disaster. I spent hours at Barnes and Noble, between let downs in all senses of the word, scanning the shelves for books that promised me a magic parenting pill. I desired instant knowledge. After reading these books I was sure to be well-equipped to wisely whisper my baby into submission at various points throughout the day; each intentional routine leading to eating, playing and sleeping at the proper times and in that order. You know the craziest thing of all? These tips kind of worked!
Until I bore a second child.
Yada. Yada. Yada.
And we adopted two more.
Suffice it to say, we’ve since burned the playbook. Parenting boxes in any way shape or form have all but been obliterated from our psyche. That is, all but one.
The box labeled “Control is a Counterfeit State of Mind, It’s Now Time to Rely on God’s Grace and Mercy” has worked its way to the front of the pack.
When all systems begin to deteriorate and I am on my knees begging for a bit more wisdom, a lot more patience and a ton more grace, only God’s Spirit can deliver the goods.
It is only by God’s grace and mercy any of us wake up every day, breathe in the morning air and put one foot in front of the other.
It is only by God’s grace and mercy our children are not only surviving, but dare I say, thriving.
It is only by God’s grace and mercy we can look adolescence square in the eye and dive in head first. (Not to mention children growing up is inevitable, Lord willing. Smile.)
It is only by God’s grace and mercy we have any tools left in the shed with which to parent this motley bunch.
It is only by God’s grace and mercy we can use these same tools to peel back any counterfeit layers of truth that may be settling over our children’s perception of themselves. We pray for eyes to see our kids as they truly are – made in the image of God; intricately designed to catapult over our own decidedly limited human expectations of them. Oh for the grace to steer them towards becoming powerful men and women of God. Towards completing their heavenly destinies!
And it is most certainly only by God’s unconditional, never ending, ever-loving grace and mercy; our lives embody a powerful testimony of the redemptive work of the cross and the power of the resurrection.
I may not have the “Girlfriend’s Guide to Launching Kids”, but I have something greater. I have direct access to the One who not only created the playbook, He breathed it into existence. The One who knows the number of hairs on our head and knit together our inmost being. Maybe I should go ahead and ask Him about His plan for my children.
As it happens, the passage of time came for me as well. I’m no longer the cute twenty-something with insane amounts of energy who might be perceived as even the least bit cool by the 18 and under crowd. These days I’m the one thanking the mother of a high school aged Young Life leader for raising such an amazing kid who is taking interest in walking alongside mine. I’m slowly learning how to release my grasp and allow my son to start to make his own decisions, manage his own time, advocate for himself and gasp – explore the world outside the nest.
Now that’s a thing.
You can connect with Megan over at her blog or leave her a sweet note below!