Mothering in the Middle School Years

8:12 AMHeather

Tell me, bloggy friends.  Tell me, fellow mothers.  WHAT do you do with a child who came forth from the womb ready to fly the nest?  How do you raise an independent, capable, confident, go-getter who never thought and still doesn't think that he needs anyone to direct him?  Because he is pretty self-assuredAnd, I've learned over the years--that he is so determined and so talented and so skilled that he can do just about anything he sets his mind to.

If I had to be perfectly honest, I'd have to agree with him to some degree.  He really doesn't need anyone directing his steps all that much.  At least not in the area of teaching him how to do thingsWhat he doesn't know, he is resourceful enough to figure out how to learn it.  And do it.  And confident enough to give it a whirl.  Usually with great success.

Couple that on top of the oldest child who playfully reminds me (often) that he can learn to drive in less than a year.  And who is rude enough to bring home four year high school plans that map out a future that is speeding at me too quickly.

What's a mom to do?  This is a hard mothering season.  Okay, I know.  I've said that in every season.  In every season, I've complained about some big challengeI've also seen great joys and amazement and progress in every season.  But, this is indeed, where the rubber begins to hit the road, and I'm just not sure that my heart can take it.  

It's way more brutal than when my little confident Cooper walked boldly into his kindergarten class with a wave of his hand and no need AT ALL for me to soothe him and comfort him.  I was conflicted then.  I was proud of his independence.  Excited for that milestone.  I really wouldn't have wanted him to struggle to tackle it.  I really would have been crushed if he clung to me instead of embracing the new territory.  But, I also wanted to feel needed.  And it was a hard thing to realize that I wasn't needed quite as much.  

I saw this comment on Facebook recently.  I don't remember who wrote it or in what context.  But, it spoke to me.  It said what my heart has struggled to say.

"I feel lost with nobody needing me."

There, I said it.  I admit it.  Four years ago, my baby girl went off to kindergarten.  And I found myself lost.  Nobody needed me.  Well, not like they used to anyway.  How do I define myself and find a purpose as a SAHM when I'm never at home and my kids are gone all school day?  Picture lots of twiddling my thumbs and scratching my head and angst and conflict.  Because, despite what I'd always expected, I wasn't being called back into the work force.  Oh, I was busy.  Aren't we all always busy?  But, it didn't have the same purpose as before.

And, I thought about what an idiot I was for feeling so useless during all those years of mothering preschoolers.  I missed it.  Well, sorta.  All the times I changed a diaper, fed a baby, filled a sippy cup, cleaned up the legos, corrected a toddler, I felt overwhelmed.  But, I had great purpose.  I was needed.  I don't know that I ever fully appreciated that.  That season where my needs and purpose were clear, although not glamorous or exciting. And I often felt unfulfilled with that purpose and those needs.  What a fool!    Not to say I didn't enjoy my kids in that season.  But I didn't fully GET IT.

Because hindsight is 20/20.  NOW, I realize that I was fulfilled in ways my exhausted and worn out mommy self never saw.  I had three little ones under my supervision.  Under my influence.  Within my grasp.  Within my arms.  Reaching for me.  And it gave me purpose.

But, here I am.  At the threshold where friends have warned me time flies ever faster.  One in elementary school.  Two in middle school.  One headed to high school in the fall.  Days of the independence of driving coming fast.   The older beginning to think about such things as college and career and realizing that he really will grow up.  The younger of the two boys ready to tackle the world.  

And just how much do I restrain them?  Just how much rope do I give them?  Just how much do I allow them to fly and fall and learn and grow?  Where do I draw the line NOW between letting them learn the hard way and being the bad guy to say no?   How to I raise brave kids with initiative and confidence and still keep them from some horrible fate because I gave them too much latitude?     

No, really.  That wasn't rhetorical.  I need an answer.  I need a guide book.  I read What to Expect When You're Expecting and BabywiseSomewhat helpful.  While I know there are hundreds if not thousands of books on the market about raising teens to young adults, I need the condensed version.  The top ten list of things to do exactly when and how.  Or the trusted mentor friend who can point the way and answer all my questions.

Because I want to raise boys who become men.  (And a girl who is confident in who God made her to be).  And I want to be brave enough to let them try new things, do new things, and learn new things.  I want to have the courage to release them to the Lord's supervision and trust Him to guide them.  But, they are still my baby boys.  On the edge of the cliff to manhood.  And I don't want them to fall.  I want them to have the wings to soar.  

Alas, my predicament brings me back to the wisdom uttered from my older sister, as I rocked my two-day-old first born, weeping and confused and so unprepared.  And she reminded me of this.  

He gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11

Indeed.  Gently lead me, Lord.  With these young.  These two amazing middle school boys who are gaining inches all too quickly.  This darling baby girl who is nearly as tall.  They are my young.  They always will be.  But, help me to remember they are yours first.  You knit them, you formed them, you know them.  Give me wisdom in every decision.  Help them to continue to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with man!  Give me courage, too.  Because this learning to let go thing is ripping me up.  But, I know that you are faithful.  Help them each to embrace and fulfill the great purpose you have for their lives!  Gently lead me that I might gently lead them. 

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts

Contact Form