I love being a mom. After surviving the first six weeks with my babies, I charged boldly ahead knowing that I had been tested in fire and come out the other side. I loved kissing, hugging, holding, disciplining, guiding, and encouraging my babies as they grew. I savored our close relationships, stimulating conversations, cuddling time and peels of laughter. That was until I woke up one morning to teenagers. It was if my babies had been snatched in the middle of the night and I was left with surly, grumbling, self-focused, messy people that demanded their independence sooner than their cranial development allowed. I was totally unprepared to parent these new specimens residing in my home. All I could think of was what happened to my babies!! As the shock faded, my hurt feelings, anger, frustration, and confusion remained, tainting our new volatile relationships. My fall from grace was stunning in its swiftness. What happened? Where did I go wrong? How could my love not be enough?
What a GOD moment. To feel the pain of the separation from relationship with my babies, to recognizing how GOD experiences this loss from HIS children daily. To see that my pain had begun to make my love conditional in comparison to GOD’s response of sending HIS SON to redeem our love. Humbly I crumbled before the LORD.
My love was insufficient for my babies, now teenagers. Maybe it had always been. Maybe my love was never intended to be sufficient. Maybe I was tested by fire not so that I could have pride in surviving, as much as realizing that GOD was protecting me from the flame. Maybe it was time to begin relying on the only unconditional love available…GOD’s.
For strength and centering I began attending daily Mass. Once service was over, I would find myself seated on the floor before Mother Mary and Father Joseph. Knowing that GOD entrusted HIS Holy Child to this couple, I too entrusted my children to their care. Like Hannah with Eli, I too turned to the ‘communion of saints’, “…pouring out my soul…from the depth of my grief and my resentment” (ISam1:15-16). I wept out my fears, frustrations, hopes, and desires. I begged for their interception on my children’s behalf; that they would be prayed into the very heart of their beloved SON. In time an inner peace began to envelop me.
I stopped anticipating conflict or assuming the position of referee. I began to depend on the ‘communion of saints’ to cover me, my family, and home with their prayers. I began to be okay with my love not being enough, because GOD’s was. All I could do is love the best I could, trusting that GOD was prepared to pick up the slack. I began to trust GOD to parent these children where they were at, better than I could. Then I embraced Saint Paul’s words, “I am quite confident that the ONE who began a good work in (your children) will go on completing it until the Day of JESUS CHRIST comes” (Phil 1: 6).
My babies have become, quasi-adults-in-training. I believe their wonderfulness is safely stored inside as they cut away on their dependency of me. I daily work at not fixing them, their problems, their lives, choosing instead to yield to JESUS. Sometimes we go days in building the bridge towards a new promised land. Yet whenever I sneak back to the driver seat, I instantly revert to old mothering skills that bring out the laser beam strikes from the quasi-adults-in-training. It’s not easy cutting away dependency on me, whether it is my precious babies in search of themselves, or me in search of GOD. Either way HE continues to provide HIS unconditional love, pouring it out upon us.
I hope your journey with your quasi-adults-in-training is a blessing for you, as you too get to draw deeper into your relationship with your Heavenly FATHER. Until next time, I will leave with wisdom from Saint Paul, “Be joyful in hope, persevere in hardships, keep praying regularly (Rm 8:25).
(Scriptural excepts taken from the New Jerusalem Bible translation)
Annie Olson is happily married to her best friend of twenty five years, and mother to two amazing women-in-training. Having come home to the Catholic faith five years ago, she is in a perpetual state of awe, that her LORD called her to HIS banquet table to celebrate with HIM. How great is my LORD!!