MOTHERING: It's not just a job; it's an adventure.
As I age, my children and grandchildren age. Duh. Of course, aging and growing up have two totally different meanings. Someone may be very mature at 20 while someone else hasn’t really matured by 60. I’m convinced much of it depends on mothering.
When my sons were young, I did everything in my power to keep them “small” and dependent on me. My husband, on the other hand, concentrated his efforts on making them men. At times, there was a clash of power, which definitely affected my sons. You know what? My husband was right and as hard as it was, I yielded – okay, I submitted – to him.
Looking back, I realize that mothering falls into seasons. The struggle is to change seasons at the appropriate time to truly mother our children. Here are the seasons, as I see it (and, yes, you have permission to disagree):
Ages 0-1: I believe this is the time for full-time mothering. I’m not talking about whether a mother works outside the home or not. That decision is made more based on the needs of her family and her calling in life. I’m talking about full-time emotional and physical mothering. Many of you know, and some don’t know, that I was a Prenatal and Early Parenting Educator for thirteen years. I realize I come from a different generation, but I must admit I struggle with the concept of “let them cry it out.” I think the first year of our children’s lives is the right time to respond to the need when they voice the need. Unfortunately, many of us seem to let them cry it out when they are infants but want to fix it when they are adults.
Ages 2-12: I believe these are the instructional years where the mother is a full-time teacher. These are the years where the the scripture, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it," plays out. Foundational teaching occurs during the years that the child is willing and able to understand they are a functioning member of society and they have a spiritual life as well. Far too many of us rush through these years and skip spiritual teaching all together because we are just so busy. Our children depend on us to show them the way and Thee Way.
Ages 13-17: I believe these years offer our glimpse of letting go and molding self-sufficient and God-dependent children. It is imperative that we serve as a guide during these years. During the 2-12 years, kids can ask why but the answer can honestly be, “Because I said so.” During the adolescent years, parents should ask, “Why?” more often. If we ask our kids what they think, they learn to think on their own while they are under the protection of our roof and pocketbook.
Ages 18-22: They are adults. Sorry. I realize this comes as a shock to many of us. Now, what does it mean to have a young adult child? You support them. Yes, you support them financially as they go through college depending on your level of preparation and availability of resources, but you also support them as they find themselves. Hopefully, in the process, they find who they are in God and who God is to them. Sorry, again. Sometimes, it doesn’t match how we see God or who we want them to be. It’s the pits, isn’t it?
Ages 23-40: Answer when asked. If you’ve built the right kind of relationship and they know you have their best interest at heart instead of knowing you are trying to manipulate their life to match your dreams for them, they will ask. Otherwise, they won’t. So, don't provide your answers before their questions are asked. It's called, "meddling," no matter how we try to dress it up.
Ages 41-up: I don’t know. I’m not that level of mother. Stay tuned.