Mommy. The title that unites all women as mothers of little people. But how do we live out our role of “mommy” when our little people are becoming big?
One of our closest friends was brought into his boss’s office one day out of the blue. Shockingly, and abruptly, he was informed he no longer had a job. After receiving an “A+” on his performance evaluation just weeks before from this same boss, he was fired; literally told to “resign” and move his family out of their home within a week. He was told not to speak about this to anyone. And the job he was fired from was a well-respected, thriving ministry.
His story is similar to how I feel about being a mom. “You’re fired!” are words nobody ever hopes to hear, especially when you feel as though you are crushing it at your job. Studies show that being fired from a job can be devastating to a person’s morale and self-esteem, often resulting in deep depression. In light of this, who in their right mind would ever agree to take a job, requiring the best of their ability and energy, knowing full well it would end in getting fired?
Operating out of healthy fear may push us to give our best, however, operating out of an unhealthy fear can be debilitating. Sometimes we as moms are guilty of parenting out of fear. We believe our motivation is love, but more often than we admit, it is fear. When “what if…” plays in our head, we default to control. We try desperately to control the circumstances of our children’s lives, and we attempt to protect our children from unnecessary sorrow. We know pain and evil will eventually hurt them, but we try for that not to be on our watch!
We exhaust ourselves trying to protect, control, shelter, train, discipline, feed, comfort, educate, instruct, disciple, encourage, clothe, nurture…. all because we adore these little people. We love them unlike any other person we have ever loved; they are a part of us. They require more of us than we have ever given. At times, it feels as though they take more than we have to give; yet we give anyway.
After entire days, whole weeks, sleepless nights, and months that turn into years, we wake up one day and our little boy, the one who bestowed on us the honorable name “mommy,” is no longer a little boy. He is a tornado of transition. He didn’t ask for hair to grow under his arms or for his voice to change. There are days he crawls in your lap and is sad that he doesn’t really fit anymore. Then there are other days he is embarrassed he ever sat in your lap.
Transitions are stressful; even good, celebratory transitions like marriage, a new house, or a new job. I am not suggesting that adolescence is a celebratory transition, however, I am empathizing with all mothers who are experiencing a transition in their relationship with a child. Even though we knew it was coming, the knowing does not diminish the pain. We are moms who work hard to teach our children how to adjust to change with poise and competency; yet we are the ones who often struggle adjusting.
Why do we grieve and fight against these changes? Is it because we fear losing control? Or do we feel like we are being fired from our job? No matter how much we prepare for these changes, it feels as though we are being “let go” or “reassigned.” This feeling is a hard pill to swallow. It burns going down; and it keeps hurting every time we are reminded we are no longer needed. But it does not mean we are no longer wanted.
How do we navigate these transitions from childhood to adolescence with our sons? How do we adjust from putting them in a high chair and feeding them to sitting around our table every night to eventually staring at an empty chair? I believe the key is trust. Not trusting in ourselves to do it perfectly, or even gracefully. Certainly not in trusting our sons to make us feel appreciated and respected as they pull away and become independent. We trust that God, the One who knit them in our womb, who chose their eye color and personality, the Creator of the universe, is writing a good and glorious story with their life. And although we are an important character in the story, we do not hold the pen in our hand.
My advice to moms in the early seasons is to celebrate the wonder on their faces. Read out loud and play as many games as possible. Give yourself grace when you get an F and know that Jesus isn’t passing out grades. Praise them with “crazy praise” because you will produce what you praise! Delight in their inefficiency and even their messes. Slow down. Seriously, stop running at a frantic pace. And stop worrying about what other moms are doing. You are the chosen and perfect mom for your son, and I challenge you to tell them every day how happy you are that God chose you to GET to be their mommy. I encourage you to like your children, to really enjoy their presence. Your acceptance will lay a strong foundation for all the transitions to come.
You have to release him, and it will hurt. It may feel like getting fired. It will possibly feel unfair (especially after all that poop and vomit you cleaned up). But your job was never to keep him for yourself. It was always to help him become independent, beginning the day you brought him home. He will enter a season when he doesn’t take his basketball shots for you anymore or desire you more than anyone else. He will swallow his tears and act tough. He will not need you to comfort him because he is learning to make the Lord his comfort. This is the story that God intended to write. Put the pen down and allow Him to write it.
Posted May 7, 2019