Monday, October 8, 2018

Welcome, fall

Three kids are sprawled in my living room with Calvin and Hobbes, C.S. Lewis, or late night Latin. “I’m going to bed now. Don’t stay up too long, and make sure you turn off the lights.”  I have entered a season free from bedtime battles, the season where they outlast me in sports as easily as in night-time reading.

This podcast from Emily P Freeman got me thinking about this transition.  With some of the kids, we’ve crossed that invisible line from childhood to adolescence. Because of this, I am a mom in transition as well, learning to let go, and to grow along with the big kids.

When they were little, they were largely under my control. I could put boundaries in place to keep them safe. I could address those ugly outbursts with consequences, and often change their behavior. I remember how good it felt to help Lorraine stop whining by empowering her with baby signs when she was too little to talk. And, watching the toddler throw a fit got easier, the more kids I had, as I better understood that my job was simply to weather the storm, to be the wall that doesn’t budge when they bash their heads against it.

Raising little ones can make you feel big and powerful, for a little while.
Until they turn into big kids.

The transition is subtle.  Suddenly, I look around and realize I am no longer the strong wall of protection and discipline, keeping my babies safe and taming them into civilized humans by doling out controlled life-experiences mixed with tidbits of wisdom. Now, my little people are taller than me. They are young adults with sparkling ideas, quick wit, and biting sarcasm.  They carry big questions, and they fight secret battles in their hearts that I can’t fight for them.  I am no longer the director of this play (if I ever really was.)

I’m the coach on the sidelines, barking through a megaphone while the game moves along at a dizzying pace, knowing they won’t always listen to me, but still gripping that megaphone like it’s my job.

As summer turns to fall around here, I carry questions with me:

How can I love them best in their remaining days at home?
How will they fare amidst the cacophony of voices? Have I taught them to listen well?
When I see their heart-struggles, when should I speak, and when should I simply pray and remain available?
What does it mean to love them, faithfully, today?

And as summer imperceptibly turns to fall in our home, my role is changing once more:

The megaphone is going away.  I’m the mom on the bleachers, whose voice doesn’t carry like it used to- whose voice is becoming just one voice in a stadium.

I’m the mom on the four-wheeler… on the BACK of the four wheeler, rid of all illusions of control, praying desperately.
photo credit: Lorraine

But I’m also the mom drinking tea on the back porch, looking out at her garden. So much sweat and toil went into that ground early in the year: breaking up the soil, the planting, weeding, watering. Now it’s fall, and I haven’t even looked back there in weeks!  Despite my neglect there it is: a sunflower, tall and strong, blooming cheerfully, pointing its face up to the sun like it was made for this.

And I realize that sunflower will keep growing whether my hands are involved or not.
That it was never my work to begin with, not really.

Welcome, fall.

Grow me up with them, Jesus!


  1. I'm a mom in transition, too. Last week I boxed up the cloth diapers. The baby is almost potty-trained completely. I don't quite have my land-legs yet in this uncharted (but not unpleasant) place.

    1. I honestly miss the little kid stage even still! But I am learning with the help of God to see the joys here in the big kid stage. and I LOVE that they can all buckle themselves in the van and we can just GO!


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