There are times when my words seem way to big and messy for my heart expression. It’s effortless to draw a picture with it’s neat boundaries, limited palette and simple tools. I can finish relatively quick and sit back and look with bended emotions. Feeling a hundred feelings , surrendering to each one Without confusion. I draw better than I think.
My firstborn is living his first year in college and I am so proud of him, but being a parent feels complicated to me right now. I feel like our relationship is lacking in all the ways I begged God it wouldn’t . I used to pray regularly for God to make me the mother this child needs me to be. It may be time to trust the process, trust the prayer and trust the God who hears me.
This child is my first born, but he is not a child any longer. As a child, he only wanted to sit on my lap, hear my stories and snuggle. Now he rarely answers my text messages. When I held him in the hospital I sang to him. When I laid him beside me at night he cannot remember the love that dripped all over him like milk that spilled from my breast. When he took his first steps I remember the blue suede shoes he wore. When he read his first words I danced with him. Every time he wept at my lost patience I died a little. Each time he hated me I held my head in shame. I stood outside the door of his playgroup with my hands on my heart holding back my tears, not permitting myself to go to breakfast with my husband lest I be happy when he was in turmoil. I walked him to kindergarten every day and we discussed things. i was a grown up then. We played blocks and trains on his blue carpet and we read the dinosaur book a hundred times, now i feel like a child, helplessly aware of the distance between us frozen in my confused state of thought.
in middle school I fretted for hours when he was on the ski trip each Friday. I couldn’t rest until he walked through our front door. When he wouldn’t eat I wore out my knees asking God to increase his appetite.
You don’t realize how much you love your children and how far you will go to give them every drop of love that you possibly can squeeze from your life and neither do they. They usually remember the times they were angry, the times you didn’t give in to their request or desires. When you said no to the sleepover or the girlfriend. The times you “held them back” , took their “freedom” shortened their curfew. Its breaks your heart a little more every day, like a wave it wears down your strength even when the moment is past, did i do the right thing, did I, did I, did I? They eventually tag most of your words as outdated and manipulative. in the places they once loved, they now accuse. Where they once ran to your arms they now repel your embrace. The arguments are strong and painful. I sit in a state of stunned emptiness wondering what could I have done different? Could I have given more, or should I have given less, should I have worked full time or taken less work on, hugged more, been more patient, more firm, where is the little boy who trusted me alone in the world to make his tomatoes and tuck him in with prayers at night. The one who was happy and content to read peacefully on the couch and enjoy a movie beside me on a rainy day? is he in there still? I don’t know, but I can remember him when I draw this little sweet face and everything seems less complicated.
We all change as we grow. I am a fool to believe I haven’t but he has. and I wonder how can I express love now to this growing man? I cannot rock him in my arms or read to him about dinosaurs, or play with him on the rug or walk him to school. Will he remember all that , all the ways I loved him well when I was a grown up? I think it’s so much like us and God. There are so few things we understand God has done for us, so few ways we see him work or give him credit for. He knit us together so sweetly but as the world works on us it shapes us into people who accuse God, get angry at him and leave. I ask if Joel will ever remember all the ways I love him, I ought to ask will I remember all the ways God has loved me quietly, silently behind doors and outside of memory? maybe that is why he sends us circumstances that humble us, it’s his palette, we are his artwork, that we might see ourselves like children again and remember that above all else we are loved.