Ok, I’m going to be real honest here.
I’m thinking to myself this morning: “Tim (my oldest son) is going into the Navy–can’t they teach him to drive???”
Yep. Here’s another one of my “Mom of the Year” awards.
I know it’s my responsibility. There is no one else to teach him. This job falls squarely on my shoulders. But good gracious, this has been—no, this IS no easy walk in the park!
The boy will be the first to admit to you, he’s not very good at it. At all. Oh, it’s not that he’s not trying. He is. HE IS!!! But it just is NOT coming to him naturally like it did to Keli, and like it is to Mark. (Yes, I’ve had Mark behind the wheel already–in parking lots–and I’m a lot more comfortable with him driving then with Tim.)
Now, let me back this post up by saying that Tim not taking to driving like a fish takes to water is NOT to say that he is not amazing. I hope you could follow that sentence, I barely can myself. He is amazing. He is accomplishing some pretty incredible stuff lately. You can read some of that stuff in my last post, HERE. (Failures and God’s Love) I’m in awe of what he is accomplishing right now; in awe of what God is doing in His life as he finishes up his last year of high school and flies toward his future.
But driving. Wow.
Last night I made myself let him drive home from the Poquoson Library. He did great. Until we hit Wolf Trap road. Then, all of a sudden, staying between the two painted lines became a problem. A huge problem. But at least it was a problem on Wolf Trap and not Highway 17! However, we made it home, and he turned to me and said “Yes!”, with a whole bunch of pride. Good pride. And right then and there I once again resolved that the only way he is going to learn is if I make myself let him drive each and every chance he gets.
Good grief, I love my crew. Even on the harrowing roads of Seaford (those who live here or attend church here will understand that overstatement), I love my crew.
But I didn’t always.
Yes, that’s right. You read that right. There was a time that I didn’t love them. Well, let me put it another way. I loved them, but I didn’t know how to love them. Not really. Not well. Oh, I wanted to. It was one of my deepest desires. But I just couldn’t get there. I’d look around at other mom’s and try to “love” the way that they did, but my heart was cold. Yes, I loved them, but I didn’t LOVE them, not with the love that is described in scripture. Not with that all-encompassing, unconditional love any mother is supposed to have for their child.
Parenting did not come naturally to me. At all. The stories are ugly. I’ll spare you the details. But there were many times I wanted to bail. And, quite possibly if you are a mom reading this, there may have been moments in your parenting that you have wanted to bail. Badly. I escaped in so many ways, secret alcoholism being just one of my many routes of escape. I wanted to love them, I really did. And I did love them—-but I didn’t know how to show it. I didn’t know how to express it. I didn’t know how to be the mother they needed me to be.
But, a few years ago, I hit a wall. I’ve spoken about that wall before on here in terms of needing to know if God was real, if Scripture was truth and if what we were doing in ministry was real or was just providing people with some sort of religious “crutch” instead of teaching them to face real life head-on.
But I don’t think I’ve shared how, in hitting that wall, I came to a decision that I wanted to know how to love my family. And love them well.
I didn’t need parenting classes. I didn’t need a “self-help” book on parenting (which I loathe). I didn’t need to “just try harder”.
What I did need was for my eyes to be open to the fact that God was pursuing me. Relentlessly. And as I slowly came to recognize that He was real, that scripture was truth, and that this enormous, creator God loved me (me!) so much that He sent His son to die for me–for the forgiveness of my many sins–only then did I really start to grasp what love was. And it was the melting of my stone cold heart and the replacing of it with a heart of flesh (Ezekial 36:26) that began to create in me a new, different kind of love for my crew. A lasting, unconditional love.
Little did I know, though, what He was preparing me for. I never saw single parenting coming–not in a million, trillion years.
Yet here I am.
And it is tough. My deepest respect to each and every single parent out there. Because there is no one else to help you love your child when they mess up, badly. There is no one else to help you celebrate the really good times. There is no one else to talk over both simple and difficult parenting decisions with. There is no one else to “take a turn” when you just don’t think you can go another step. And it’s a very lonely place to be.
But for the grace of God. It is only by His grace that I am able to love and parent at all. And that goes for all of us, whether we are single or married. Parenting is not for cowards. It’s heart-stopping when it’s 2 am in the morning and you don’t know where your child is. It’s shocking (though greatly relieving) when your child comes home from a friend’s house and tells you they are home early because the rest of the people there started to smoke some weed. It’s heartbreaking to walk your child through the very real pain of hurtful words thrown like stones, or the very real grief of missing their other parent. It’s devastating when they don’t want to go to church (though we’ve seen some real change around here in that area, for which I am grateful) And it’s infuriating when you see your child bring home F’s when you know they are capable of A’s and B’s.
No. Parenting is not for cowards. Plus, you have to teach them to DRIVE.
But God’s grace covers even this thing called parenting. I don’t know how, it just does.
So, this Mother’s Day I will be celebrating. Not the fact that I’m a mother. But the fact that I have a God who loves my children through me. I love them imperfectly. I love them, but as a sinful, fallen creature. But God? He somehow allows this imperfect, selfish, sinful mom the joy and the privilege of raising 4 amazing, resilient, funny, kids. And a great dog. And a couple of lizards. Grand-lizards, actually..they belong to my girl.
I will worship Sunday morning with my crew and with my church family. I will enjoy watching the baby dedications and remember when my crew was that tiny. I will probably take a nap, having spent the entire day Saturday with Tim, chaperoning the York High Chorus Competition trip to King’s Dominion. And I will spend time laughing and enjoying my crew…..and marveling at the grace of God that allows me to love such amazing people.
(Below is a very brief video of me and my mom. She died very young of breast cancer. I don’t have a lot of pictures of her, and very few pictures of her and I together. But out of the blue one day, her brother sent me this snippet of a video of she and I together when I was just a baby. I like to post it on Mother’s Day. There is much I could say about my mom– who she was, about her extreme resiliency, about the things that I’m grateful she passed down to me. But I can’t without being a wreck, for so many reasons. So instead, I post this video, in memory of her. I often wonder if she sees, if she knows. If she is proud. I look forward to the day when I can go home and see her again.