When my eldest children were two or three, I thought the hardest struggles of parenting were potty training them and getting them to stop biting each other.
When they were 10, I thought that the hard part of parenting was protecting their childhoods from the culture around them that introduced them to adult topics when they were still small-ish children.
When they were 12-13, I thought that the hardest thing I’d do as a parent was to guide them through the changes of puberty with its mood swings, flaring tempers, changing bodies, and first crushes.
When they were 15, I thought it was the heartbreak of mean girls, unrequited love, social pressures, and growing up.
Now they are in their late teens and early twenties, and I’m finding that I was unprepared for the heartache and worry that can come from being the parent of an adult or nearly-adult person.
The hardest part of being their mom is no longer being the ultimate authority, there are parts of their own lives that they are the sole authority on, and yet I can see, thanks to my age and life experience, the tragedies and heartaches heading their way. I was unprepared for the strength that it would take to stand and watch the train of pain and heartbreak speeding towards them and know that I’m helpless to do anything other than watch them get hit.
People talk about hindsight being 20/20, but they don’t talk about how it can make foresight 20/20 as well. Watching my children make really bad life choices is horrible. Knowing that the consequences will be horrendous and that none of the warnings I have shouted will be heard is devastating.
And they don’t listen. For the record, I didn’t listen to my parents either, but my children should be different. They should listen to me.
But they don’t. they stare at the headlight speeding towards them, dazzled and mesmerized by its glow. And we’ve reached the point in life where I’m not able to protect them. I can’t shove them out of harm’s way. All I can do is stay nearby to pray for those standing on the tracks, and to help bandage the wounds of the recently flattened.
Dear Lord, Please give me the strength and wisdom necessary to parent these almost grown children of mine. Grant me the strength to not meddle in their lives even when I know the train is coming, the fortitude to stay by their sides even when I can see the pain that is inevitable, and the generosity required to not indulge in saying “what were you thinking?” or “I told you so.” Please give me the softness and grace necessary to help bandage their broken hearts and turn them gently back towards You. Help me to be the mother they need as they leave my protection and learn to navigate the world on their own.
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