Last week, I read a blog by a young mother who lamented the fact that she had sixteen more years of parenting left (until her youngest turns eighteen). I wanted to reach through my computer and hug that dear little mommy. Because, the truth is that she’s not going to be done in sixteen years. In fact, she will never be done.
With each new phase of a child’s life, motherhood changes, but it’s never over.
I remember thinking that the newborn years were tough. The lack of sleep almost did me in. And, then the toddler years came with tantrums, and the school years with learning issues and social drama. The teen years were actually a breeze and I figured I was in the home stretch, but I was just entering a new phase of motherhood: parenting adults.
I remember being really mad at my daughter when she was in her early twenties, and without thinking I yelled, “You’re grounded!” She looked at me and laughed and said, “Really, from what?” She was right, what was I grounding her from? She had a job and paid her own way in the world. I realized in that moment that my role had totally changed. I wasn’t the one in charge anymore. I had been benched, stuck on the sidelines watching my adult children play the game of life.
And that, dear mamas is perhaps the hardest phase of motherhood of them all. Because, the life lessons learned in young adulthood are so much more painful than the childhood ones. And, the fact that you don’t have the power to keep them from making the wrong choices makes it doubly hard for moms. I thought my heart would break on more than one occasion. I actually longed for those childhood years when the issues were minor in comparison. The days of skinned knees and lost friendships were replaced by far bigger issues with potentially catastrophic results.
I had to sit on that bench and watch my kids make some awful plays. I had to watch them suffer injuries both emotional and physical. And, I had to live with the constant desire to grab their game ball and run the plays the “right” way.
But, I stayed on that bench, warmed up and poised for action. Because, moms, you will be called back into the game and you need to be ready. But, this time you won’t be called in as a player but as a coach. And, coaches are vital to the success of an athlete.
Because we aren’t busy playing the game ourselves, we actually have time for the most important part of parenting (one we tend to brush over quickly when we are swamped with the demands of a young family) and that is prayer. I find myself praying all the time now; praying that my players make the right moves, thanking God whenever they score a victory and asking him to hold them in his arms when they’re running the wrong way.
The time when we were the star players and the success of our team seemed to hinge on us is over. But, interestingly this may be the most important phase of mothering I’ve ever done. For, I have been forced to truly, really and completely entrust them to God’s care.