There comes a point in parenting when you’ve done your job equipping and what remains is supporting and loving the child across the divide into adulthood. What my child needed to know about work ethic was taught from toddler-hood through adolescence, with multiple opportunities for on-the-job training. Waiting until the child was warm and cozy and dozing off in bed to turn on his lights and sweetly tell him the day was not over until his jobs were done. Watching him trudge his pajama-clad ten year-old body out into the cold, dark night to put the trash out, knowing it would pay off when he was twenty.
The reality is that once the tools have been placed on the table it is up to the individual to pick them up. I’m a tool collector. You could say it’s almost been an obsession when it comes to my older kids. But I have learned over these years that no matter how many ways I prompt towards success – whether it be academic, spiritual, physical, you name it – until my child holds the tools, determines the weight of them, decides which fits well in his hand, and most importantly spends the hours practicing with them until the tool becomes an extension of himself, the collection of tools remain bits of wood, iron, and steel.
I try not to be the parent that demands my child walk through the doorway of success. Ultimately I don’t have any control over that. I can beg. I can bribe. I can yell. I can threaten. I can stand on the other side and give precise instructions on how to walk through it. But in the end it’s my child who must choose to journey through. And because we all want to be in control of ourselves, sometimes we choose failure because it’s the only option we’ve been given that allows us to be in control. It’s been my goal to simply show the doorway and keep the path to it clear.
It’s hard being a mamma, especially an obsessive tool collector mamma. I imagine it’s hard being this mamma’s child. Always having to be in touch with motivations and feelings and choices and consequences. We’ve done these things pretty well in Bentonland. Not perfectly by any stretch, but I have confidence in what matters most – my kids know they are truly loved. Loved in a way that is really hard sometimes, because it requires giving them exactly the opposite of what you want to. Loving them enough to not give them their license for a year after they passed the test. Loving them enough to let them run out of medication because they have to figure out some battles belong to them and prescription refills are their story, not yours. Loving them enough to let them fail.
I’m in a place I’ve been before – standing guard over my nest, one eye on the baby-all-grown-up, one eye on the sky he should be flying in. And I’m doing my best to support and love him across the divide into adulthood.
But the day will come ~
if he doesn’t choose to fly ~
when I’ll push that baby right out of the nest.
He was given wings for a reason. They must be worked. They must be strengthened. They must lift on the wind.
Love won’t leave him in the nest.
“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:12
Oh Favored One – Love. And love well. Yourself, your children, your spouse, your neighbor.