Lately, I've been nostalgic for the "good old days" when my kids were really young. You know, when one of those books with flaps or Balto and a little popcorn was cause for much celebration.
Back then, the biggest issues I faced were potty training, nap time and sharing toys, and most of the time, a little cuddle, a Spiderman band-aid and a juice box fixed their hurts.
Now, though, things are different. As the mom of a 12 and 15 year old, the old way of doing things just doesn't cut it anymore. I think I am nostalgic because back then, my input in my kids' lives was so much bigger. Let's face it, I basically was the ruler of their little universes. I could control things.
These days - not so much.
They are both good kids. They really don't give me much, if any, trouble. But like all moms, I worry about them. I never want them to get hurt, or to get left out, or to fail. Unless I drag them to a deserted island and wrap them in cotton batting though, that's not going to happen.
And can I say it - maybe that's a good thing.
Wait, don't gasp in horror. The truth is without struggles and difficulties and hard things, none of us would mature into adults. If things come too easily, it can stunt your growth - at least your mental, emotional and spiritual growth.
My oldest son, Brock, is a little over 5'6". Since he had a major growth spurt of almost a foot at the age of 11, and has only grown about an inch and a half since, his dad and I are guessing that he's not going to grow much more.
Personally, I don't really care how tall he is, but Brock's passion in life is basketball. Yes, basketball - not wrestling or baseball or any other sport where height wouldn't matter that much. Nope - it had to be basketball. So, Brock has had to work MUCH harder than anyone else to make up for something he can't change.
As a mom, that's been hard for me to watch, and sometimes, I can't help but ask God why He didn't give Brock a passion for something that more suited his size and build.
However, Brock's hard work earned him a spot on the Varsity team last year as a freshman (a really young freshman too since he won't be 15 until the end of July). That was even harder for me to watch. Not only were the games more "important," but the boys he played against were big.
I can't tell you how many times I squeezed my eyes shut because I was afraid some big man-boy was going to break my son in half. In fact, in the last tournament game, some big fellow came barreling down the court, caught Brock in the side and spun him in mid-air. It was all I could do not to leap over the bleachers in front of me and run out onto the court to make sure he was okay.
But I knew he probably wouldn't appreciate my motherly concern.
To be completely honest, sometimes in my heart of hearts, I've sort of resented this big obstacle Brock has been forced to overcome. It just doesn't seem fair. Was a few more inches really that much to ask for a kid who lived and breathed basketball?
Personally, I don't like things to be hard. I don't like to overcome obstacles. I want things to be easy. I don't pray for trials and suffering to come into my life. I've gotten to the point in my life where I can thank God for what He teaches me through those things after the fact, but I'm not to the point where I'm asking for them.
It's even harder to want that for your kids! It is so against my nature as a mom to want my kids to struggle or suffer. Recently though, as I've been reading and studying about the cost of being in full surrender to God (and no, following God does not automatically guarantee you wealth, health and happiness - hate to burst your bubble), I've realized that God is preparing Brock for something He wants him to do - something that takes hard work, perseverance and the ability to overcome big obstacles that seem impossible. If Brock was 6'2" and he didn't have to work so hard to overcome his size, he wouldn't be prepared for whatever that is, and as hard as it is to watch him struggle sometimes, I can trust that God is using this and it's necessary. God doesn't allow difficult things in our lives just for the fun of it.
Our struggles and pain and hurts are never wasted. God uses them as building material - costly and precious.
I think so many times as parents, while we have good intentions, we stunt our kids' growth because we keep trying to make things easy, or we try to cushion the hurts to the point our kids never feel pain at all or we step in to keep our child from failing when the lesson is not in skating by without any scratches, but in actually landing flat on their backs so they can look up.
In almost every culture around the world, boys go through a ritual before they are considered men. Often the ritual is hard or painful or involves completely some kind of quest or a combination of those things. In America, we tend to cosset our boys to the point where it's not unheard of these days to find grown men in their late 20s, early 30s still living in their parents' basements, playing video games.
It's kind of like we have a Peter Pan syndrome going on here - boys never want to grow up and are living in a sort of Never Never Land.
While that's cute in a Disney movie, it's not so cute in real life.
I remember reading about butterflies. They start out as caterpillars and then they make a cocoon and in that cocoon they morph into a butterfly. Once the transformation is complete, they have to struggle out of that cocoon. It's a hard battle. If you came along and saw that butterfly struggling and thought you'd be nice and break them out of of their little silk jail, you will actually cripple them, and ultimately, that will kill them because a butterfly that can't fly is some other creatures afternoon snack.
The struggle strengthens the butterflies wings so it can fly. Without the struggle, the muscles are weak and instead of soaring, the butterfly is bound to earth and doomed to a short life.
I really don't want to do that with my boys. While it's hard to watch the different things they struggle through or watch them fail or live through the consequences of actions, ultimately, I have to step back, stop hovering and let them. Otherwise, they will never soar, but will instead be doomed to be boy-men - and we don't even have a basement!
~ Blessings, Bronte