Monday, August 31, 2015

Getting to the hard parts

“Momma, I’m scared that I won’t have any friends when I get to high school. I’m scared I’ll just be a geek that no one likes.”

Why do my kids always drop these confessions on me, along with grade school theological philosophy at times when I least expect it? Like in the car when I need to dedicate a large part of my brain to operating the car and answering the demands of our youngest son who does not understand or accept that no, I cannot retrieve whatever item he’s thrown to the floor board in a fit of rage. Nor can I focus on any other conversation through his wailing.

I suppose after almost 10 years of parenting, however, I should be ready for anything.

This. This is what I’ve been holding my breath with fear and anxiety over.

Every milestone. Every birthday. Every single day that inched them closer to adolescence, was met with both joy and fear that this day would come. Despite our best efforts as parents to fill our children up with the greatest confidence in the world, I just knew that the social insecurities of other kids would start to creep into their precious minds causing them to believe for one moment that they weren’t awesome people.

Growing up, I seemed to struggle with it more than my dear husband. Nothing against him, it was just the difference in our communities: small vs. large. Or perhaps some people are just more confident than others. Why is it that some people march into this world with more mental fortitude than others? It’s taken me until my adult years to grasp the concept that I am who I am because I actually am uniquely made by a Creator that does not make mistakes. It took an awful long time to get here though.

Our oldest son is coming into an age that terrifies me. Not because of the mistakes he’ll make, but because there’s some stuff coming up on the horizon that nobody but him and Jesus will be able to bring him through. Looking back at my own adolescence, I just know. All the signs are there and I’m almost frozen with fear.

On one hand, it’s awful. On the other, I feel like my own experience with people less than kind to me and my own very powerful insecurities are what have made me a very compassionate and nonjudgmental person. I’m able to see both sides of the coin faster than you can tell me your own side of the story. Tell me your troubles and I bet money my heart will actually ache like it’s my own. Many a tear-filled prayer has been lifted on behalf of my friends and family, as if the trouble were my own. I hurt for people. I can’t watch the news because my dreams will be haunted with the injustices of the world. True story: I once wrote the Mayor of our town about a neglected cemetery on the edge of our neighborhood because I felt the deceased deserved a better legacy than a weed covered headstone. I also wrote the President about saving the rainforests because it hurt my heart to think of a future without them.

In short, I don’t know what to do. I speak life into my children as often as they’ll actually listen, but sometimes, actually a lot of the time, the world is more powerful for what seems like more than just a spell.

As a Mom, I have high expectations for my children. I know they are imperfect, just as we all are, but also I see them with a perspective that allows me to adore and cherish their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Those are the things that have made me laugh until I’ve cried and melted me to my knees. These are the things that I know will make them successful adults. The things that their spouses will fall for over any of their flaws. The things that will make them unlike anyone else and make them extraordinary.

And so it goes with all of us until we just reach a point where we embrace those parts of ourselves that have always been a little off-center, but made us who we are. If we, in fact, actually choose to do so, because I know too many adults that seem to be on the other side of their lives that still haven’t managed to do this. They fight it and in that turmoil wreak havoc in every area of their lives as a result of the inner strife that causes. Including their interactions with other people…like my babies.

If ever there was a time that I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave and see that everything was going to turn out okay for my kids, now is the time. I don’t mind that my kids struggle, because that builds character, but where do we draw the line in knowing how much is too much?

I wonder what the world would look like if we just all quit worrying about what other people thought and embraced the unique differences between us all. What if we all quit concerning ourselves with who was right and started just trying to understand the other person’s point of view? Instead of arguing with other people because how dare they think something different than us, agree that those differences in opinion were exactly what created a society that allows us to walk freely without fear of oppression or violence. What if?

I think the first thing to happen is we might actually begin to embrace the things that make us different and instead of thinking that no one is going to like us when we arrive at a certain destination that we might be more excited about how many new types of people we’ll meet.

I dunno. I just…don’t know.

This is the hard stuff, at least some of it anyway. Parenting is becoming more complex. I guess that’s the way it is though. Just like a long distance race. It gets harder and harder the closer you get to the finish line.

Lord, help us.