I spoke to a friend of mine recently who also has a large family. In asking her about parenting adult children, she made the comment, big kids have bigger problems. Being a mom is the toughest job anyone can ever have. I’ve been a stay at home mom (SAHM in modern vernacular) my entire life. I still am. I work from home most of the time, a mixture of choice and a lack of funding to get out and do my “job” more. I am in in my twenty-ninth year of homeschooling with three years left to go. That’s enough to get social security benefits and retirement.
Commitment to farm and family didn’t earn me much in the way of finances, thanks, or applaud. Most of the time during my many years at home, I heard the typical SAHM line,
“What do you doooooo all day?”
To which I always wanted to respond,
“Eat bon-bons and read movie magazines.”
I declined the sarcasm and instead made small talk about the size of my family keeping me busy instead.
Now that I run a non-profit and have the title of “chaplain” to go with my SAHM I get the reverse statement,
“You must be sooooo busy, I don’t want to bother you.”
For the love of God, please bother me. I get starved for adult company and to do what God has prepared me for. (Very slow coming in this area of the country, and in my life.)
Yes, I am busy. Too busy. Yes, I am a chaplain and CEO. But…
Yes, my son – my one and only son who is still at home and homeschooling continues to be my priority. It is for him that I stay home. Mostly he educates himself with very little input from me. But in his words, he’s my “side-kick.” We are often stuck like glue. The last two years he has been involved in a local -co-op and enjoys it. He is talented in photography and neglects the assignments we give him to please his co-op teachers. Typical kid. He spend hours on the piano or cello.
And yet, he still snuggles. Sometimes. When no one is looking.
He’s a great kid. A great young man. Not really a kid anymore, the days of childhood on the farm are over. Sadly. He’s also in the growing up process – the pull me close, push me away, I love you, you annoy me, stage of life. He needs to grow up some before he realize life is full of contradictions and it’s how you handle the contradictions that matter. He is easily influenced. He needs to grow up a bit to learn who to be influenced by. He’s a complicated human being with even more complicated emotions, thoughts, and ideas.
Like we are all are.
Staying home was, and is a choice. It is my choice and it has often come at a very high price. It is not a better or worse choice than working, though I am partial to staying home, at least in the informative years.
However, I know a lot of kids who thrived with working moms and public or private schools , and plenty of kids who have not done so well homeschooling. I am not a homeschooling nazi anymore. It was not a magic formula for my kids to all grow up safe, secure, respectful, filled with faith, or close knit. Some of the children appreciate the sacrifices I made, some don’t. Some are modeling their childhoods, some aren’t.
The kids have choices too. They grown up and make choices, while we are left to sit idly by and pray for them to make the ones that are in God’s plan, pray for them to be safe, and pray our hearts don’t break as we watch their hearts break.
Prayer is never idle.
Sometimes they listen to our counsel.
Sometimes they embrace our counsel.
Other times they completely disregard it, tossing iit out like an old worn out sock that’s no longer useful.
It hurts our hearts when they turn a deaf ear and choose to be fueled by impulse. It tears our hearts open when they accuse us of interfering, or making it about ourselves when we weep with human emotions, effected by human relationships. Sometimes in this life, we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Relationships are difficult. They are most difficult with the ones we love.
And when we hurt our kids – that’s the ultimate evil to the heart of a mom, and it takes great grace to forgive ourselves, reset our emotion valve, and move on with purpose.
Moms bleed every time our children get hurt, it’s just the way it is. The bigger the kid, the bigger the pain, the larger the blood loss for mothers.
The skirmishes of childhood turn into full blown military combat as our children embrace a broken world.
Our bodies bleed through the process of birth. And if by chance a child comes through the process of foster, or adoption, our spirits bleed through the birth process. As they grow, it’s as if we feel them struggle all the way through the birth canal into adulthood.
Some labors take longer than others. Birth was never easy for me; I had some really long, painful, labors.
It looks different to everyone, at every age, in every situation, in every stage of life. It is the one constant we have in raising children.
For the parents of adult children, grace takes on a whole new image, and a brand new voice.
Grace holds our hand when we look back on our many and varied parenting mistakes. Grace winks His eye when we listen to our children give their interpretation of a story, knowing it is so far from the truth of how it really happened. Grace lifts its cup when we celebrate the victory of watching our children happy, loving, and being loved. Grace opens the prison doors when we need to break free from the guilt of a a child whose life is marred by problems, difficulties, addictions, losses, mental illness, or the thousands of painful experiences parents all over the world are facing. Grace covers us when when we are left out in the cold by a child whose moving on, means moving right over the top of us.
Grace gives us the strength to move ahead – one step, one moment, one breath at time, when the unimaginable happens and good-bye means forever, in this life.
Mom’s need lots of grace and as our children grow older, the grace just keeps on growin’.
Maybe I keep on growin’ too.
Either way, it’s working.
“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”
I am learning to let His strength come “into its own.” I am learning to appreciate the gift.
For parents of big kids, hang on. A spanking, a time out, or grounding may not fix our problems, or theirs, (oh it was so easy then!) but with God all things are possible when we live in the power of His strength. We may have bigger problems, but we have ever increasing grace, and even BIGGER blessings.