The longer I parent the less I know. It seems I had all the answers before I was pregnant.
Even having little ones didn't scare me too much.
The answers seemed clear. I'd read all the books.
Feed them. Nap them. Change their diapers.
Read them books. Sing them songs. Pray with them.
Physically exhausting, but definitely "controllable."
Countless times, I'd piously tell my mom the answers to raising children.
Somehow being a parent of little ones for under 3 years had elevated me to expert status.
She always held her tongue. I thought it was because she knew I was right. I did have all the answers.
Sneaky Mom. Now I know it was because she was letting me gloat in my fantasy world knowing that it was just a matter of time before the realization would hit me that I REALLY KNOW NOTHING.
Children grow. They change. It seems to be their job.
There's a new stage around every corner.
The discipline that worked for one child barely moves another.
I can't find a "self-help" book written that clearly lays out how to put my husband first while setting boundaries for a teenager's email activity while tempering fighting sisters as I'm rocking a baby.
Would someone just give me a step by step manual on how to do this?
I'm fighting for peace as a new stage of parenting enters.
It's pushing through the door completely unwelcome.
Go away. Come back in a couple years when I'm more mature and I can deal with teenagers and their independence.
It enters anyway. Whether I'm ready or not.
My first-born son is a teenager. My second son nearing the title.
This is not easy.
Fear is perched on the doorstep of my heart threatening to replace any sense of peace.
I'm afraid I have no idea how to be a mom right now. No clue.
They no longer simply need food and sleep and wiping.
They need guidance. Yet they don't really want it. They need listening ears, yet they never want to talk when I'm in the mood. It's all on their time. They recognize my hypocrisy and point it out. They question the unquestionable. They reason eloquently for certain privileges and I resort to saying the dreaded line, "No, because I said so."
I see the look in their eyes that says, "Really? That's the best reason you can give me?"
They need pointed to the Heavenly Father...without words.
Their choices have become no longer mine to control. Perhaps that's my biggest struggle today.
Oh, how deciding if they had enough vegetables for the day sounds like a blissful discussion.
I recently heard a friend say to her teenage daughter, "You know...this is our first time raising kids so you are going to have to give us some grace here."
This is our first time doing this parenting thing and God's really going to have to pull out a miraculous intervention.
Some days it seems we are doing everything in our power to ruin our children.
Lord, have mercy on my kids.
My prayers used to be coherent in regards to my children.
Well, not always coherent, but longer, heartfelt, complete.
Now, they are primitive. Simple.
Help, Jesus, help.
Save, Jesus, save.
Wisdom, Jesus, wisdom.
Some days, I can't even pray with words, but just groan in my spirit.
Romans 8:26 "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Take my groans, Lord, and turn them into something.
And then I'm surprised.
Surprised when I get my I-tunes bill and my teenager has bought "Jesus, Friend of Sinners."
Surprised to see him searching for a particular scripture to give some encouragement to a friend.
Surprised when I check his email and find a hint of goodness woven into his writing.
Surprised when the pre-teen is helping his little siblings act out a Bible story.
Surprised that somehow God isn't completely dependent on me to raise these children.
As my panic attack at raising teenage children grows, God surprises me with periodic reminders that He really is in charge. He saves. I don't. He's the giver of wisdom. I'm not. He's not afraid. I am. He's sees all. I can't. He will have His way.
No mistake I make, no ignorance I display, no uncertainty I feel can interfere with the plan God has for them.
They are His.
His Will will be accomplished.
Why would I be surprised that God could be working in the heart of my teenager when He changed the heart of the apostle Paul?
Why am I completely shocked to see some fruit growing in his life in spite of his membership to this sinful family when every person used in the Bible came from a similar sinful family?
My children are children of God first.
And He has a plan.
I don't know which lessons they need to learn the hard way in order to understand God's grace.
I don't know what heartaches they must see in order to believe God's love for them.
I don't know which part of their road needs to be broken in order to prepare them for a future ministry.
God knows though and I can already see Him starting to weave.
If my mom had had her way, I would have been sheltered from all of life's failures, heartaches, rejections, disappointments. But even the most vigilant parents cannot shield their children from everything painful. The reality is that given the choice to redo life without those mistakes---those disappointments---those failures---I'd never take it because it was in those moments that I really met my Lord.
And there's nothing I desire more on this earth than for my children to meet their Lord.
So why am I so afraid for my children?
Am I afraid that the God who was big enough to carry me isn't big enough to carry them?
Am I afraid of watching where He might take them?
Am I afraid their faith won't sustain them?
Yes, yes, and yes. Yes to all of the above.
God is not afraid. And my fearful heart is having to lean into my Savior who knows what the future holds and has no fear for my children.
I'm slowly, painfully, having to practice this faith-cling everyday.
Yesterday, my pre-teen walked by me as I whispered, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
"Are you swearing, Mom, or praying?"
Are you serious, Child?
"Praying. Praying that even though you have parents who are unsure of how to raise you that God will save you, grow you, heal you, and use you."
Does it get easier? Will we be professionals by the time we get to Noah?
Or will we be so tired that we just won't care?
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
When I'm too weak to even recall a verse, there's power and peace just in speaking His name. I sense we'll be whispering "Jesus" for the sake of our children for the rest of our lives.
Hopefully my children will know me well enough by then to know I'm crying out to God and not cussing.