It is frequently said that “parenting is not for the faint hearted”. With that being true, I would love to hear what the saying is for parenting children that go out of state to college . . . perhaps its “parenting that will cause you to be broken hearted”.
And let me tell ya, this strong mama’s heart has been able to withstand hospital stays, broken bones, grieving children, and let’s not forget teaching teenagers how to drive (Lord Jesus, I do still need a touch from you over that one), and yet this new season of parenting is proving to be my Armageddon.
It’s like I’ve come to the finish line and my first child is officially an adult, only to find out that now I am facing my greatest parenting battle yet!
So why is this season the biggest beast? Well, let me ask you a question… What do you do when they are over a thousand miles away and having a bad day (or a series of bad days)? How do you parent from that distance? If she was home it would be so easy. I would love on her, hug her up, and then take her out for ice cream. That’s my mommy go to move. And it works… just not when she is 17 hours away!
I begin to have flash backs to when she was a newborn. A crying, unconsolable newborn that I held in my arms and thought, “What do I do? How do I make it better???” At that time I was a brand new mom and hadn’t developed any of my mommy go to moves. So I just did what she did . . . CRIED!!!! And here I am again, 18 years later doing the same thing. BAAWWLLING!!! Bawling because I don’t know what to do, bawling because I’m the mama and I should make it better, but bawling mostly because this time I can’t even hold her in my arms.
And to top it off, life does not stop for me to sit and weep, which is the only thing I feel adequate and capable of doing. Instead, life is refusing to comply and being completely unreasonable. It says to me, “time to go to church, time to go to work, time to pick the kids up from school”, but no time for a weeping mother’s heart.
So I find my big girl pants (hidden under a pile of self-pity), put them on and I force myself to do life. That night I go to church, and the next day I go to work, and after work I pick up the kids from school. I just try to do life and not show that my heart is completely elsewhere. Then in that moment, while driving my kids home from school, our new exchange student from South Korea starts to open up and tell me about her first day at her new American school.
She recounts how her speech teacher got emotional while she shared with her students about a time in her own life when she was homesick, far away from all of her friends and loved ones. My exchange student expressed how deeply this touched her, because she too knows how it feels to be home sick.
The teacher continued to unveil that during the time when she was feeling alone, she came to understand that she was never really alone, that God was always there, comforting her. Those words rang in my ears, and tugged at my heart. They were the same words I had just told my daughter over the phone the night before. Suddenly, I was able to look past my own grief and see in my rear view mirror a home sick 17 year old girl, that is SEVEN THOUSAND MILES AWAY from her friends and family.
God spoke to me so clearly in that moment. He told me a familiar scripture, “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them…” (Matthew 7:12) I so desperately want to be with my own homesick daughter and yet she is not the one before me. Interestingly enough, the Lord has placed someone else before me, struggling with the very same thing as my very own daughter.
I quickly come to realize once again that God is so awesome, and His ways are so much greater than mine. He placed me in a position to be able to do the exact same thing that I want done to my daughter, and He lovingly reminds me of how His ways work.
I may not be physically able to love on my daughter myself, but I can love on the one in front of me. So I decide to pour into this dear, sweet, homesick child from South Korea. I decide I am going to love on her, hug her up, and take her out for ice cream, all at the same time resting in the assurance that God’s words and ways are true. Trusting that He will directs others to do the same thing for my own daughter.
Is that you too? Are you in the Armageddon season of parenting? Maybe your child is away at college or on the missions field or even in the military quite literally in battle. Perhaps you are feeling much the same, helpless and heart broken with the great chasm of distance between you and your child. Know that you are not alone and others are sympathizing with you and your pain. Also know with confidence that the Lord has made a way through His Golden Rule, and choose to not only do life in their absence, but be to those around you what you want others to be to your child.
This post is the third of five posts in a series on parenting. Be sure to come back to hear the rest of this series in the weeks to come.
Blessings to you Ladies!