parenting raising teens

An Apology to My Son

9:18 AMHeather

I saw it. I saw the exasperated look on your face. I saw the eye rolling too, just before you turned to leave for school. I knew you were angry with me. I even knew exactly why and I knew when I spoke up that I might get that response.

Because when I asked my question, it sounded like I was questioning you. When I did my usual mom nagging, I knew it sounded like I was full of doubts.

Because I am.

And that offends you.

I know you feel as though I am doubting you. I know that what you heard was that I wasn't sure of your abilities.

I suppose I do have doubts, but it's not like you think. It's not that I doubt how grown up you are or how capable you are. Really. When I stop and consider who you truly are now, I could not be more proud of your sense of responsibility and your hard work ethic and your faith that is becoming your very own.

At the heart of it all, it's more that I doubt how in the world we got here so fast. It's that I doubt that childhood is really fading and adulthood is so very close for you. It's that I look at your face, with it's faintest shadow revealing the need of a shave, and I doubt what I'm seeing. It's that I literally have to repeat to myself that you have grown into a fine young man and you are no longer a boy.

How can this be?

When you pull me into a hug, and my head rests on your chest, I doubt that this can actually be true. 

Because I am the one who held you on my chest. All of you fit, so snugly there, napping without a care in the world. Your tiny baby fists and your silky baby hair. With your ten little toes all curled up under you. Your entire frame fit so perfectly in the crook of my arm. The whole of your being was rocked in my arms. And I swear it just happened. 

So forgive me when the doubts I have about how fast time has flown overshadow our conversation. When I look at you, preparing for midterms and thinking about college and talking about your future. And an incredulous look crosses my face. Because I doubt that we can really be at this point in life already. 

When I ask you the questions, like I did this morning, and you hear doubt in my voice, please forgive me. Because I don't mean for it sound like I doubt YOU. There are just these moments when I nag because where a young man stands, I still see my baby boy. When I talk with you and you share your own opinions and thoughts and ideas and incredible sense of humor, I wonder how the days of toy trains and legos have disappeared?

So, yes, I have doubts. I am so full of doubts, actually.

Truly, the real angst of my doubts is far more about me than it is about you. 

I doubt whether I've done enough. I know the time is winding down and I will blink and you will fly off to your future. And it can easily spark a panic. Really, it's not about you. It's about me.

Did I teach you all that you need to know?

Did I show enough love?

Did I show enough grace?

Have I prayed enough about all the things?  And how on earth can I surrender all the things? How do I release my greatest treasures to our Heavenly Father? Yet, how can I not?

Did I lose my temper too much?

Did I tell you everything? Did I prepare you well enough? Did I forget anything important?

As the hour glass seems to be emptying of sand, the doubts taunt me. The doubts of my own ability to take advantage of all the opportunities I've had to be the mom that you need me to be.

Buddy, you are right. I am full of doubts. And I know that must be so frustrating for you. But please know that my doubts are far more about whether I've done my job well than they are about your ability to do your job.

In these moments, it's like an out of body experience for me. I can see what I want to say and how it will be perceived, and I need to exercise far greater self-control so that I stop the doubts. So that I don't express them. So that I don't give life to them.

So that I shut them up for good with the truth.

That God is for us. That God has us. That God has you. That you have always been his before you were ever mine. That you actually aren't really mine at all. But you have been loaned to me, entrusted to me. And God knew what he was doing. He must have thought I wouldn't mess this job up too much.  When I do fall short and I pray hard that his grace will fill my gaps, that indeed, he will do so. 

That you are no longer a boy. That you are indeed a young man. That the years really have flown by us, and I must release the mentality that you are somehow not as grown up as you truly are. That God has a purpose and a plan for your life that I cannot fathom. That God goes with you to all the places this mama can't go. That I would release my desire to be in control. And remember I was never really in control anyway. 

That I would take a deep breath and still the deep waters within me. And instead of asking the question I want to ask you, in a nagging tone, I would pause and think through all these crazy thoughts. And breath a quick prayer, asking God to help my unbelief.

So then, I can look at your handsome grown up face and instead of questioning, I would say to you, "We serve a big God. And you are his. He will give you all you need. I believe in you!"

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