How can I begin? How can you ever really explain to another Human Being how much they mean to you? Most especially, how can I ever make you understand the depth of my love for you, until you have children of your own?
Losing my own mom when I was only 20 years old, I felt so cheated…it seemed like there was so much left to say, so much left to learn, so many milestones left to reach. Now I would have to do all of those things without my mom.
At times, I have definitely felt that pressure and anxiety in my own mothering of y’all. I only have a brief window in which to pack as much as possible. In those 18 short years, wisdom has to be shared, comfort has to be stored up, and moments have to cherished. It is such a delicate balance though, because if I close my eyes to cherish one milestone for a second too long, I might miss another. You grow up so fast, and whether or not you agree; 18 years is but a moment.
How can I possibly make sure that I am getting it all in? Have we made you wise, and not just smart? Have we given you the tools you need to go into the world and make wise choices? Thriving under my wing is easy…expected even, but can you fly? We have this discussion often when you get into the comparison game about what you think those around you are accomplishing. Some parents, pave a path of least resistance that makes failure impossible. The runway is perfectly smooth, your friends might look like they are gliding along; it doesn’t mean they can fly at the end of the day. If all you do is spend time preparing the runway, and never spend time on the actual flying lessons; you still just have a nice runway and a flightless bird. I don’t want that for you. I want you to have the deep potholes, the black ice, and the short runway to practice on. I want you to freak out, and have to call “MAYDAY”, or whatever a bird would yell if they were in trouble. I’m not really sure what goes through that little bird’s mind as they are spiraling toward the ground, when they think their mama might not rescue them. Probably the same thing that goes through your mind’s sometimes. In the end, you know that I always will scoop you up…and recently, that has probably been more than I should. I think every mom is guilty of some runway paving from time to time (or at least putting up a few detour signs).
It is the worst kind of pain to watch your baby hurt; especially when you can see the pain coming and you can’t do anything to stop it. So basically, the teen years. I could try to sit here and wax poetic about how beautiful these moments are…helping you navigate these treacherous waters of self-discovery, BUT let’s not lie to each other. This is hell, on everyone! I’m not saying it has all been bad, obviously. There are absolutely Pinterest Perfect moments now and then. There are also You Tube Epic Fail worthy moments… I sometimes wish that I could bear to be a head-in-the-sand mom, so that I could miss some of the epic fail moments; but that would mean I would also risk missing some of the best moments too. Through pain we learn some of life’s hardest lessons. If I shield you from the pain, I also cheat you out of lessons that we all need to learn eventually.
Don’t ever mistake my lack of intervention for a lack of caring; it is actually because I care so much that I don’t interfere sometimes. Other times, I will teach you how to fight. You are still young, and you need to learn when and how to wield your powerful voice. There is also great power in peace. Learn how to make peace with others, and you can control situations that seemed utterly doomed. Most importantly, you need to know when to fight and when to make peace. There is a need to know both.
The world is waiting for you. The world needs you to be ready. If you aren’t ready for the world, the world will eat you up. It is my job to make sure you are ready. This reality haunts me daily; sometimes over the most mundane realities, like sorting laundry, or using an ATM machine. Have I prepared you to face anything? Have I exposed you to enough real life circumstances, that you will be able to roll with actual punches in your life? Can you deal? Can you survive on your own when you are pushed out of the nest? Can you fly? Sometimes you’ll do something spontaneously awesome, and I beam with pride because I know you are so ready for the next step. Other days, you call me from the grocery store because you can’t find something. We keep doing this one step forward, two steps back dance to adulting.
The crazy thing is that I’m positive my mom had these same exact thoughts about me at various stages…I just pray that you don’t put me through anything close to what I chose for myself. Learn from my missteps. If you never hear another word, hear me now; being smart is not the same as being wise. Don’t try to ignore the voice of discernment. Most importantly, always remember that we are your safe place, we are your soft place, we are your home. There is absolutely nothing you could ever do that could change how much we love you. We are proud of you. We are proud of who you are as people; just because of who you are. We like what you; most of the time. We think you are remarkable human beings, but that isn’t why we are proud. Our family wouldn’t be our family without each and every one of you; being just exactly who you are. Always stay true to who you are. If you forget who that is, ask us and we will remind you.
I want you all to grow into the people you need to be in this big, crazy world. I also want you to know, that I will never let you fall, and not be there to help you get back up. I am always here to support you, as long as you want (and probably longer), and to love you through all of the ups and downs that will come your way. I will love you, and support you; but I will not carry you. I just want you to stand tall, and grow into your own person. Trust God’s path for your life, and trust yourself to walk it. If ever you are not strong enough to walk alone, you have a mighty God and a loving family walking with you every step of the way. You are never alone in this big scary world; but you do have to walk on your own two feet, we won’t be carrying you or pushing you. You are strong enough and brave enough to do anything you put your mind to; so go do it.
Always remember who you are, and return with honor. I love you more than anything.