I keep seeing this meme on social media:
Although, I didn't know it when my Middles were Littles or Bigs were Babes, I desperately needed some moms farther along the path to trust me enough to share their mistakes or, even more scary, their children's bad choices.
As the mother of kids from middle school to young adult now, I get why I didn't seem worthy of that trust. I was fresh and so were they. Our vision was as smooth and soft as our young skin. If I'm honest, I just figured you older moms hadn't read the right books or joined the right group. Otherwise, this whole parenthood thing was a matter of the the proper words and the best deeds and the worst part was the sheer exhaustion of keeping up. Frankly, your mess just seemed a clear cut lack of knowledge.
I never even saw it coming my way.
As I busied myself with the task before me of pouring out and drawing in, I was distracted by the details. Intentions were goodly but perspective was limited. How could I see that these brilliant babies o' mine were not an extension of me but burgeoning people with minds of their own, developing opinions often contrary to my own. A rude awakening, indeed!
Then, some years ago, I received this phone call:
"Hello, Mrs, Jones. I'm calling about your son. You do know you've registered him with a Christian institution, right? Based on his political views, I wasn't sure if you realized."
Yes, I do know his political views and I promise yours are likely much closer to mine than those of my 14 year old son. Also, my husband is actually a local worship pastor so let me scramble to find a way to readjust my ever wavering expectations with these ever frequently-occurring conversations. What I didn't have the foresight to say was how these young minds of mine had some legitimate insight to offer and, in recognizing, I was to become the better for it.
I'm grateful for that phone call and all the others that followed with even worse news of the words or whereabouts of my often wayward sons as they tried to navigate an often cruel world. I also appreciate the little bits of grace, the little encouragements, from the moms who had walked my path before.
Too often, however, I was left with the impression that I was the Only One and that is a lonely place to live. Now, I know this is not the reality because, if we are being real with one another, we all have a hot mess on our hands in one way or another. I'm just not that good of a person, as it turns out, and, along the way, I sure needed to have a motherhood veteran pull me aside and say, 'Oh, girl, have I ever been where you are'.
In fact, whether we have Littles, Middles or Mostly Dones, we could all stand a little encouragement. And, let's face it. when the tiny, adorable people become purple-hair or tatted-up ones, that's not as easy to come by. There are just moments in mothering when we might need an older, world-wizened mama a few more miles and battle scars ahead of us to say:
You are not a failure and this situation is not the end of the world. Better and worse days are yet to come and you can stand because you are not in it alone. You don't have to know all the answers at once. Honestly, some answers will forever elude you but, know this, even as you answer a call to raise little humans into big ones, your growth as one is just beginning. Life lessons with kids are as much for your benefit as theirs. And, let me be real and transparent enough to tell you how I know...