Parenting at Light Speed
When my big boy was born, I was fortunate to be surrounded by many lovely women who were ahead of me on their journey as parents. Shortly after he was born, I took on a new, full time ministry position. In my supervisor’s infinite wisdom, she allowed me to bring my infant son to work when I was not in direct ministry. So, my small, shared office was filled with a playpen and baby supplies. There were all elements of my young mothering in that office. Everything from pacies to my breast pump sat under and around my desk. These women held my son while they worked every day. They held my spirit and guided me through that challenging first year of parenting with compassion and care. They always were available to listen, help me balance my new work/family life and love on my sweet boy. This first year of ministry and parenting seemed to fly by so quickly. Soon my sweet infant was a busy toddler and our time of being in the office together was finished as he went off to care in other places daily. He left our small village and we moved into a new phase of his life.
During this first year, one of the ongoing themes of their sage advice was that time would go by so quickly. They all had children and were in many different stages of parenting. This advice deeply touched my heart and I was careful to pay close attention to not just my son, but my speedy journey as a new mom. I treasured each moment, whether it was momentous or not. Each day, each smile, the moments spent comforting him, the late nights, the colds, singing to him, playing with him and all the little pieces that make up a lifetime were taken into my heart carefully and etched into my soul.
My busy toddler grew. Our lives took turns that made me so grateful that I had taken great care with our journey. As our lives changed together, as his brother joined our family, as our family was rocked to its core, time moved steadily forward. He is now in his first year of high school. Although, he may not be aware of it, I still heed the sage advice of the women who surrounded me that first year of his life. I watch and am amazed every day by who he is becoming and am filled with pride as I watch him navigate the world without his dad. What I didn’t expect was that the speed would pick up so much. It feels like my parenting journey with him has jumped into light speed. Over the summer, as I investigated the role of parenting a high schooler with those around me, they warned me about the time going by like a blink of an eye. I readied myself for this increase in speed, but I didn’t anticipate the jump into hyper drive!
It feels like each day is filled with new successes and challenges. I feel him becoming his own man and feel my parenting changing to accommodate this. My heart leaps each day as he comes home with a smile. My heart sinks as our conflicts in ideologies and perspectives rise. He has always had different ideas, but now they are life shaping ideas. I know all this is normal, but part of me misses my little boy. I am filled with excitement watching him carve his path, but this excitement is followed by concern as he will face the struggles of life. I know I can’t protect him from all this, but I want to be able to protect him. So much of him is like me, I long to save him from all the stupid mistakes I made…but, I know that he must make all his own mistakes and his successes will be his. All this happening at such a fast pace, I am just hoping to keep up and be able to continue to etch the moments into my heart.
I also hope that through this high speed journey of his teenage years he will know how much I love him. I hope he knows how proud I am of him each day, each moment, each breath. I hope he feels my love and it gives him courage to move from one exciting step to the next. I hope he doesn’t misunderstand my discipline for disappointment. I hope he doesn’t mistake my caring for him as wanting to control him.
All those years ago, one of my wise friends gave me a framed poem about parenting. Written by another wise woman, it used to hang in my big boy’s room in those infant, toddler and little boys years. I have taken it to heart and know that my job is parent is only to guide and prepare, not control…
Children are like kites.
You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground.
You run with them until you’re breathless,
You add a longer tail,
They hit the rooftops,
You pluck them out of the spout,
You patch and comfort, adjust and teach.
You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly!
Finally, they are airborne, but they need more string and you keep letting it out
And with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with the joy
Because the kite becomes more distant and somehow
You know that it won’t be long before
That beautiful creature will snap the lifeline
That bound you together
And soar as it was meant to soar~
Free and alone.
…even when life is moving at light speed.