When my kids were babies, no one told me about the heartache. There was no “Mommy and Me” class time dedicated to just how raw your heart would feel over the years. There were no books at the local library on what to do when there is nothing you can do.
This is why parents of older kids feel so alone. Parents who remain married to their child’s other parent can be alone in the hardship together.
For those of us whose relationships with our kid’s other parents have run their course, the task at hand can feel incredibly daunting.
The hardest part of parenting is when we see our kids in pain, and cannot remove the pain for them.
Pain is a great motivator. Pain is an educator. Pain is a catalyst to change. Pain also just sucks.
When my kids were very little, I was aware of the fact that at some point each of them would most likely touch the stove. I did not encourage it and spent much time saying, “No, it’s hot” over and over. However, to a child with no concept of “hot”, these are just words.
At some point, the child must experience the warmth, the discomfort for themselves in order for those words to sink in. After that point, telling them “Hot” has a meaning.
It is one of the hardest aspects of parenting, to allow our kids to experience pain, knowing they will grow and learn from it.
They have to fall when learning to walk. They fall off of bikes. They don’t land flips on trampolines.
Even that pain is manageable to my mom heart, as I can bandage the sore, help them heal.
As they grow, the pain turns more inward. There are friendships, relationships, and even family dynamics that cause them pain.
They wrestle with choices about their future. College. Where to live. What dreams to follow. HOW to makes those dreams happen.
There is a point along the way, and it is different for each one, that the parent cannot tell them what decision to make.
We are to be a guidepost. We are to offer our advice if they ask. We can no longer tell them who their friends should be, what choice they should make.
For a parent, this is excruciating. Just as with the toddler and the stove, we know the discomfort will come. We can see it on the horizon. We can advise against it.
They have to do it on their own.
One of my friends is known to say, “Our kids need to know that the door is always open, the light is always on, and they are ALWAYS welcome wherever you are.” The hope is that in reassuring them of the safe place they can land, they will, in fact, learn to fly. They will have a confidence in their step, even when the choice is scary.
Talking with my friends, I often tell them that I am woefully unequipped for the task that has been bestowed upon me. These kids deserve the world. God entrusted them to me, and I will be doing everything that I can to not screw them up.
Growing up is hard. Life choices are hard.
Knowing your mom is 100% in your corner hopefully makes it at least bearable.