I saw them sitting together in the stands. I wanted to go talk to them but didn’t know what to say. Would they even want me around? Would they just think I was weird? Could I even relate to them? Maybe they would just be annoyed of anything I would have to say. Despite all these insecurities, my desire to spend time with them to build up our relationship overpowered me and I took a chance to go “hang out” with them.
I got the look. That look of, “Why are you sitting by us?” I just laughed it off because I was expecting this.
After some reluctant conversation, I was told by my child, “You can leave. I’m just joking, but not really.”
Hurt welled up in me as the rejection hit to the bottom of my soul. I grabbed my purse and stormed off, back to my chair away from the stands and away from my child and their friend.
As I sat in my chair heartbroken by the words I had just heard, my child comes to me in lowliness and asks for forgiveness. I want to be angry at them, yet I see sorrow in the eyes of my child in what was said and the hurt it brought upon the mother they love and my heart couldn’t deny giving anything less than forgiveness.
Afterwards, as I was reflecting upon the reasons for my hurt and actions, I realized that I am struggling with myself getting older, my children getting older, and all the changes that come with it. With this epiphany, I knew it was time to accept that all this means leaving behind an old season of life and adjusting to a new one. Thus, it was time for my child and I to discuss this new place in our evolving relationship and set some new boundaries.
As the mother of a 14 and 12 year old, gone are the days where my children want or need me around for everything. I am raising them to become independent, and I must recognize, respect, and not become overly offended when they are expressing their independence even though they may not do it in the best way because of their lack of experience. As independence becomes more needful for the them, it’s a huge adjustment as we both are trying to figure out a new balance in our progressively changing relationship. They want more independence, I don’t know if they’re ready for it, and then there’s that part of me that’s having a hard time letting go. But, independence does require letting go to allow opportinities not only for success but inevitable failure. Lessons in failure are the hardest to allow, but it’s the natural price of growth and learning faithfulness.
On the other hand, as I have the blessing of hindsight on my side as a parent, I know that my children still need me in many ways even though they may not think so. In their immaturity they don’t understand this, however, I know they will get it one day. So, I will be an active presence in their life whether they want me there or not, guiding and rebuking along the way with gentleness.
With the awareness that my children need me but also have a need for independence, we mutually discuss and set as best we can agreeable age appropriate boundaries. Boundaries where I respect their wishes of privacy and space to the level of their trustworthiness and self-control while maintaining my active role as their mother in whatever ways I deem necessary. Boundaries that change as needs and capabilities change. Boundaries that will not rid us of conflict or my imposing consequences, but can be a guide to provide an understanding between us to minimize turmoil for peace. Boundaries that are a blueprint for kindness in respecting each other’s personal responsibilities and preferences. Boundaries where love, and not control, is of the utmost importance.
I meet this new phase in our lives with optimistic realism. There will be times where I am despised, unpopular, and rejected as a result of doing what I believe is best for my child against their wishes. It’s a price I’m willing to pay for their betterment. However, there’s so much strength and wisdom we all will gain as we work through our differences, and I’m so excited for the opportunity to learn from these young minds. Ultimately, the true joy of parenthood comes when I see the fruit of my labor in their own independent expressions of the fruit of the Spirit. A fruit that is best cultivated if goodness is demonstrated by myself first and is worthy of every bit of longsuffering to bear.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Children are a blessing from You, my God, and I am truly blessed to now have mine in a new season of growth and maturity. I am thankful that they are exhibiting qualities of independence and look forward to how this will enhance our service in Your kingdom. I depend on You to give me and my husband wisdom to work with our children as best we can to set boundaries between all of us to bring forth the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. May all this be done to cultivate hearts that praise and honor Your holy name through Christ. Amen.
Truth in love,