Dear Sweet younger Mama,
I see you every Sunday, sitting in church with your little girls. Usually, your daughters are wearing matching dresses, often their long hair has been braided (by you?) or curled. They sit very quietly, proper. I gaze from a few pews back with fondness, remembering those days when my own 3 daughters were dressed and coifed and behaved to my liking. I sit back with envy at the ease and beauty that you live in. I think back to the "easiness" of challenges like getting the girls ready for church, the simplicity of those days tugging at my heart.
My thoughts towards you are kind, although tinged with sentimentality of an easier time. I smile because I've been where you are. Those were beautiful days, and I probably didn't cherish them enough. I don't envy you the ages of your kids because I am happy that I'm further along down this road of mothering. However, I miss some of the compliance and sweetness... because, I know what you don't ... That some day soon, you are going to enter a new place. A darker, crazier, unfamiliar, place where you feel lost most days. It's more like a black tunnel, less like a black hole. You know that it is taking you somewhere new. It's similar to a passage way leading from one stage to the next. Inside this passage way you will experience sadness, pain, surprise, and ecstasy all swirling around you at various time. There will be pain and there will also be joy. The joy won't last long, but it will occasionally come. Hormones really only allow for about 3 great days per month.
The ways that you parent and the tricks you keep up your sleeve won't follow you into the tunnel. You will have to learn new methods. No time-out is long enough for some of what you will face. Inside this passage way, tucked in secret spots along the walls, there will be blessings, and there will be cursing. Until you round the corner, you won't know which one will overtake you. My suggestion is to accept and embrace, rather than fight and fret.
One day, you will be surprised by the silence. It will actually hurt. The day your sweet little talkative girl sits next to you choosing to keep her thoughts and feelings to herself rather than invite you in. In reply, you will fake a smile, and tell her you love her, and you will drive away clothed in the stoic facade that has become part of your normal wardrobe. The tears will fall, but you've made great strides in letting Jesus wipe them. Some days, under pressure, you will scream "I don't care what you do!!" all the while feeling "I care more than you know". You will stay fiercely protective, just as you are now, but you will be forced to loosen your grip. Fingers that are pried loose don't bleed for too long, I can assure you that.
This tunnel has soft walls and floors, making the many falls that you will take more comfortable. Falls of desperation to your knees in prayer, falls from being knocked down by ugly words, falls from attacks by your enemy, falls from inexperience, falls from being weak, and falls from being humbled. Eventually you will learn that all of this falling has a purpose. It is to prove to you the Lord's right hand is so strong. He never gets tired of helping you back up to your feet.
I assure you that within this passage way, there will be small glimpses of light. Lest you think that my words are just the rant of a worn out, flushed out mama, I can assure you that your perseverance and your heartaches will eventually produce fruit in your big girls. For others, your girls will show kindness. For their friends they will be generous and loyal. For their teachers and coaches they will practice discipline and respect. Adults in your daughters lives will come to you with gratitude for your years of training, hopeful that your child can light the way for those around her.
Within the sacred sisterhood of mothers, nobody talks honestly about these dark places. It's like there was an oath taken, a vow of silence. We don't prepare moms for what these teen years bring like we did the years when we had young kids. I've never come across a book titled "What to expect when your daughter yells at you." No grandmas and no aunts reveal the nitty-gritty truth for fear of being blamed for the halt of the family line. No friends risk being brutally honest for fear of being judged or compared. I know that nobody's journey is exactly alike, but paired side by side, the paths could share some commonalities, some similar solutions. This sure could be helpful toward successfully navigating what can be a really challenging time.
My prayer for you, young friend, is that you will enjoy this time with your little girls while you have it. Style the hair, match the dresses, and hold them close. Listen while they will talk, hug while they will hug you back, laugh when laughter is welcomed. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Then, when your heart feels like it might break in the dark passage that is ahead, I will shine a light and help you find your way. My prayer for both of us, whatever season we are in, is that we would find our hope and our strength and our courage in God alone.
This is a promise. Believe in it.
A Sweet, older Mama