I half knew it was mistake when I made the call. My brothers had flown into town so that we could celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a special day. We gathered with friends and family at a famous local restaurant eating ribs and exchanging stories. And in that moment, I missed my boy.
I’m in a New Parenting Season as My Son Becomes a Man
A few weeks before, he graduated from high school. We celebrated with a big party and a day later we drove him eight hours north to work at a Christian camp. It was a whirlwind. So many endings and beginnings all smashed together.
As I looked around the restaurant, my heart was happy to see my parents, extended family, siblings, family friends, and three of my children. But the fourth was missing—my oldest boy. It was the first celebration without him. So, naturally, I picked up the phone and FaceTimed him. As soon as he realized where I was, the expression on his face fell.
“Mom, why didn’t you tell me about this dinner?” he asked.
I hesitantly responded, “It’s been so crazy, I didn’t think you needed another thing on your mind.” He proceeded to say hello to everyone, chatted with us for a few minutes, and then I said goodbye.
As I listened, my brain quickly processed that he was driving eight hours alone for the first time at night and would be home around 1AM.
While his intention was thoughtful, I also realized he would be driving back to camp the next morning because he had to be back by 5PM. My parenting toolbox wasn’t prepared for this moment. My mind told me to say, “Turn around, you’re not thinking this through.” But my intuition told me to let him make this choice.
This small story is an example of the tricky parenting season I am in. As an 18-year-old, he is ready to go, ready to move on, ready to be independent, ready to be a man. But there are many places where he still leans on us. This new season is a delicate balance. I am constantly trying to discern whether to share my opinion or zip my lips. It is not easy, and I don’t anticipate it changing any time soon. We know the frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until our mid-20s. Jesus, help us!
I Can Trust God as He Knows Every Step of My Son’s Life
How do I handle this balance? First, I look back and remember God’s truths in raising him up. He is not our child, he is God’s. And God has a beautiful story written for his life. He knows the beginning and the end. He knows the ups and the downs, and He will weave purpose through all of it. God gave him to us to be his ambassadors here on earth. To teach him right from wrong, to love him, guide him, and mentor him, but he is ultimately God’s child. I latch onto this truth and lean into it as the time comes for him to leave home and step out on his own.
He is not our child, he is God’s. And God has a beautiful story written for his life.
Second, I choose to remember that throughout 18 years of parenting him, we have tried to focus on the fact that we are ultimately raising a man and not a boy, so we have to loosen the reigns. Over the years we have done many things to help grow manhood in him.
For example, early in high school my husband taught him how to keep a budget. He was expected to have a job and manage his money. Also, he learned how to do his own laundry at a young age and help out around the house. Furthermore, we have not hovered over him with his academics or extracurricular choices. While we have made many mistakes, I am glad that our bar has been set high for him. It has fostered his independence.
Third, I am learning discernment through prayer. It feels like yesterday that I was nursing him in the middle of the night and praying aloud so I would not fall asleep. I prayed for his mind, his purity, his health, his wife, and children. I prayed for God’s story to illuminate itself in his life. Over 18 years, these knees have become worn out from prayer, and I know that is the way they are supposed to be. They are a picture of surrender.
That night as he drove home, Matthew got his first speeding ticket. In his rearview mirror, red and blue lights flashed, and sirens blared. His heart raced and the policeman approached his car. He was alone, and it was late. After telling us the news, I called him every half hour until he was safely home and walked in the door. At church the next day, he got to see my parents and his uncles. While happy to see everyone, he was in a bit of turmoil knowing that this had been an expensive 24-hour trip.
I’m Stepping Back So My Son Can Learn on His Own
I realize now that when he originally called, I could have told him to turn around. It would have saved him time and money. But now I see that this is a little snippet in his big story. Now he knows how to drive 16 hours alone and may plan differently. Many lessons will come from this one small experience. Ones that he may not have learned if this little 24-hour period hadn’t been carefully written into his story.
Same for me. As I discern this balance, I know that God is teaching me to loosen the reigns even more. He is teaching me to trust Him that He has my grown child in His hands and is carefully crafting the story. It is so beautifully written that there are plot twists, conflicts, and joys that I can’t see and won’t expect. It is scary and exciting all at the same time.
So, how do I discern the next time he calls? I remember that God has prepared him, and He will equip him. I remember that we did what we thought was best in raising a boy into a man, and I can stay on my knees in surrender.
No matter what season of motherhood we find ourselves in, all mamas can use a dose of encouragement. Hear some timeless tidbits to give you an encouraging boost now…