"And they lived happily ever after."
Even though we know this ending to most of our children's story books is unbelievable, we often live as though this ending is the only acceptable storyline for our own lives. When trouble hits home or the circumstances don't match our fantasies, we protest. This wasn't how it was supposed to be! Why aren't we all happy?!?
Mothers who are in the baby-or toddler-stages expect some hardships. We aren't surprised that labor and delivery are, well, laborious. Get very little sleep? Check. Change poopy diapers constantly? Check. Vomiting? Check. Training and discipline? Check. We know that early parenting stage is hard! So, we go into it sorta kinda prepared. We have other moms in that same stage who we bond with over play dates.
But, somewhere along the parenting journey, is it possible that we assume we will have a fairy tale ending to our stories? Reality usually hits at some point, though. What is on that elusive list of things that we need to successfully let our children go? Where are the other moms with wisdom when my child is distancing himself from family? Who wants to gather with other women when your daughter is in serious sin? Who wants to have yet another argument with a son who is struggling with anger?
I've written before on this blog about taking the long view of things. This is a critical perspective to have, especially during the season where our children are becoming adults. There are some actual physical and cognitive maturing processes going on in these young people. There are all sorts of spiritual questions. Relationships change. Anxieties may arise about leaving home, about college, about greater responsibilities. Our young adults have a lot going on in their worlds! If we, as parents, get too focused on the here and now, we will miss the big picture.
Sometimes I imagine myself with my face pressed up against the glass watching my life inside. I can only see what's going on immediately in front of me. But, then I imagine God seeing the big picture, knowing the amazing things He is doing, understanding this is a process.
As I grow in my trust of God, I begin to see the beauty in this process. It's not a picture-perfect beauty. No, it's full of blemishes, mistakes, immaturity, sin. But, the Potter is molding His clay into something beautiful. Something like His own image (Romans 8:29). God is doing that in our adult children. God is doing that in YOU!
So, mamas, don't run away from pain or difficulty. Don't try to keep your grown children from this path. Don't expect perfect endings to your stories. Trust that God is writing His perfect story and ending for you and your family. When we give up on this whole fairy tale that we may have concocted in our heads, then we will truly see that the very story (the very circumstances) that God is weaving in us is actually something quite joyful. As we grow in contentment (actual contentment, not fatalism) regarding God's plan for our lives, and our adult children's lives, we will count it ALL joy. That is really how our stories can be happy.
If you are currently struggling with parenting an older child and would appreciate prayer, I would love to add you to my own prayers. Contact me and I will pray for you and your kids daily.
This is the fourth post in a six-part series. You can catch up on other the posts in this series, "Raising Older Children": 1+1 sometimes=2, Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Paper, Contractions Don't End In The Delivery Room.