When a mother gives birth, a piece of her heart follows that child, taking up permanent residence. How else can you explain the elation she feels with her children’s success, and the ache she endures when they suffer loss? Earned pride in a son’s accomplishment–from first step to first job– transcends any triumph in her own life, and agony is magnified in a daughter’s undeserved mistreatment or poor decisions.
When they toddle, Mama is an invisibly-caped superhero, preemptively rescuing them from danger and disaster. Her superpower is seeing the invisible, the "monsters" that lie in wait eager to impose their destruction…an army of fire ants hidden in a grassy knoll, Mr. Clean and his noxious friends under the bathroom counter, the aqua lure of a swimming pool on a hot summer day. Adrenaline fuels a mother’s heart, pumping "fright or flight" through her vessels, empowering her to do her job…her job….
Her "job" is New York–it’s the city that never sleeps.
With age, it’s less about "stepping on Mommy’s toes" and more about bruising her heart. Oh, how we wish we could protect them from wounded hearts!
But perhaps that’s exactly what matures them, challenges them, transforms them like nothing else…life trials.
In the span of 36 hours, I’ve borne witness to simultaneous highs and lows for my children–a hit, a miss, a hit, a miss. I’ve felt every lash, the good and the bad.
My oldest son, exuberant as he made the middle school soccer team, vying for team captain. My youngest son, releasing the dam of tears he had held inside all day, as soon as he was safely hidden behind tinted glass, after learning from others he didn’t make the team. My daughter, after running three miles in the rain, delighted she had shaved off close to a minute in her time…hours later, reduced to tears of frustration, overwhelmed with homework that wouldn’t end and material she was having difficulty grasping.
If I could, I’d insulate them from pain, hardship, a broken heart.
Even as I say that, though, I’m thankful I can’t—it’s in these very things character is born, coping skills are developed and they learn skills that will serve them for life. I guess I’ve come to see that shadows prove the sunshine….
My prayers for them have changed over the years; no longer do I ask God to prevent the trials of life, but I beg Him to give them wisdom and peace and understanding in the midst of them. I pray that they’d be transformed to the image of Christ, that God would use circumstances for their good and His glory, that their response to difficulty would be honorable.
A wise friend who learned about my daughter’s meltdown challenged me to silently applaud her tears; she reminded me that as rivers flow, tension was relieved on emotional rubberbands. Isn’t that a marvelous way of looking at it?
I don’t have to like their circumstances–sometimes I shake my fist in defiance and anger when my heart is breaking for them–but I’m grateful even the difficult times can be a positive thing for them. My superpower remains being able to see the "monsters", but instead of rescuing my children, helping them to see how they can "defeat" the monsters themselves (not by self-reliance but by looking for how those monsters are helping them become who God intends for them to be).
It’s not a job for sissies.