“Don’t blink . . . “
“Babies don’t keep.”
“They grow up too fast.”
All the clichés . . .
In less than two weeks my oldest will turn thirteen. Thirteen! I will officially have a teenager, and when I look at this man child, who is taller than me and almost outweighs me, I wonder how on earth we got here. There’s a tiny drop of bitter that goes with the sweet of each passing year, but even more, there’s this huge privilege that comes with watching our kids grow into who God created them to be.
My baby boy came into this world in a whirlwind, five weeks early, amidst major complications. Statistics and science tell us he shouldn’t have lived, or at the very least, he should’ve had major medical and developmental issues. The doctors and nurses were astounded at the strength and health in that tiny four and a half pound body. They called him our miracle boy. And here we are, almost thirteen years later . . . he’s still our miracle boy.
I don’t take any of this for granted. I don’t for a second take for granted the absolute blessing it is to be able to watch my children grow up, and I always try to be mindful of those who don’t have their miracle babies to hold and love . . . of those who’ve suffered devastating loss and indescribable pain and heartbreak. I don’t have all the answers, nor will I pretend to this side of heaven. Just know there is a God who loves you deeply, completely, and unconditionally.
It is such an honor to raise both of these children. Two of the liveliest, most passionate, funniest, slightly stubborn, and most amazing people I know. Two young people, who came to us in two very different ways. Yet, they both defy the odds of their history on a daily basis, and I am so aware that each milestone, each step of growth and development, is one to be celebrated.
That’s not to say there aren’t hard days . . . exhausting days . . . days when I just want them to go to school or bed . . . either way. I would be remiss in not owning up to those things, and every single mother, admit it or not, would say the same. But even on the hardest of days, there’s always a tinge of sadness that accompanies another passing year. There’s always some bitter with the sweet, but I decided a long time ago, to give myself a moment as each birthday comes . . . a moment to reflect, to be a bit sad, to think back and wonder where the time has gone . . . and then I shift my focus. Because I want to focus far more on the sweet than the bitter. I don’t want to wish away the hours, but I also don’t want to dwell on the past.
In just under six years, our boy will be off to college only to return for holidays and breaks. While six years seems like a long time, y’all it’s not. It’s a snap of the fingers. A blink of the eye. Both of my babies are far from babies anymore. Both are very much in the process of growing into their own people with all of their own feelings and motivations and opinions . . . boy do they have opinions. While their paths may not be identical, and maybe even different than what we envisioned . . . God doesn’t call us to raise children the way we want them to go . . . . He calls us to raise them the way He wants them to go . . . watching what they’ve overcome, makes us embrace and celebrate each passing year and each moment of growth rather than lament them “growing up”.
As parents we want to raise our children to be as independent as they’re capable of being. To grow into the person God wants them and created to them to be. And then one day, we hope and pray, they are able to launch out into that great big world confident in who they are, knowing that they’ll always have our support, but no longer our step by step guidance. And (for most children) there comes a time when we have to “cut the cord” so to speak. Where we complete the shift from the parenting relationship . . . where we guide, provide, and raise . . . to a friend relationship where we come side by side with them as equals. Because that is God’s design. He created us to grow in families and be sheltered, nurtured, provided for, encouraged, and taught by our parents. But that was never intended to be forever. We’re also meant to fly. To grow up and build lives of our own.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife . . . ” Genesis 2:24
“Leave” – forsake and loose (Strong’s Concordance 5800a. – “azab”)
So as we move into these teenage years, I’ll look back on all the birthdays we’ve celebrated and embrace the memories. But I refuse to mourn what has passed. Instead I’ll celebrate the past and look forward to the future in all of its unique beauty. And together, as parents of both of our kiddos, we’ll continue to be here, to guide and protect for a little while longer as we help them find the path God has for them.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
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