Sunday, September 19, 2010

MINE! A story of growing up and letting go.

Mine. A simple word, four letters that individually seem harmless. Yet when thrown together in that order can hold a world of weight. What does the word mean to you? As children when playing with our favorite toys, we are reluctant to share with anyone. A common word uttered among them is MINE! In my house we have many things that are not to be touched without permission. Pretty much anything in my oldest child's room goes without saying. If she so much as catches you with a pair of her socks she will come unglued. My middle child is much the same way. Her room is her sanctuary from the world. My son however is very different from his older siblings. I'm not at all sure what this says about my parenting. But he is a sharer. Being as I have the oldest children among the majority of my friends it's his toys that are up for grabs. He is happy to do so as long as everyone understands to pick up when they are finished. In his words "I didn't make that mess mom. Someone is going to have to help me clean it up."

If you want any proof towards God's grace and mercy, you needn't look any further than my family. While growing up my family didn't go to church. I was an only child and was very familiar with the word MINE. I was left alone a great deal and not allowed to have friends over so everything I owned was in fact MINE. The only time I was ever forced to share is when for one week a summer one of my cousins came to stay. You can imagine how this went down. Sharing one's room, bed, toys, TV stations. It was torture. Not that I had any qualms when I went to their house for a week. Going there was something I looked forward to every year. Something I look back upon with very fond memories. Mostly because they were a family. They weren't alone. They weren't eating poptarts every morning for breakfast. My aunt made the best pancakes ever! Also as I was an early riser, my younger cousins were up also, so watching cartoons was more fun with someone to watch with.

Now that I'm grown I find that same concept holds true even today. I have a lot of trouble letting go of what is MINE. This pertains to every aspect of my life really. My sins are MINE. How on earth am I to forgive myself for what I've done even though I know that I've asked forgiveness and God has forgiven me. My personal torture seems like a small price to pay. For certainly I must pay. As I'm certain that even though I've never killed anyone and I don't steal, the fact that when angered I tend to recess back to my childhood and the way my family dealt with things and yell and sometimes curse like a truckdriver, I may have done irreparable damage to my kids psyches so that is MINE too. It is in fact a very heavy burden to bare. I'm not so good at letting things go if I think I can fix it.

It's not just that. They are MY children. How on earth do you let those go? I can't do it. Those precious beings that I never imagined having the entirety of my youth. They have become my reason for existing. No house, no car, no amount of accessories or electronics can make me as happy, as fulfilled, as completely insane as they do. My oldest has started high school the next in line is in jr. high. The only shred of sanity I hold on to is that my youngest is only in second grade, so my life will make sense for the next ten years. I was just told today how great the empty nest is. I have no idea how this can be a good thing for me. I don't actually know who I am without the kids. Sure they are all in school full time now, and I do enjoy my days of running around and eating lunch with friends, reading books in my reading room uninterrupted. It's delightful, but there is only so much of it I can take. When the children get home my day begins. It's exhausting running to and fro all the time. I wouldn't change a thing.

This last Friday we went to the High School Football game. My oldest two ran around with friends and socialized. This is a good thing. I know that. The game is less about the game and more a reason to get together with friends. I was a nervous wreck. It was impossible for me to relax. Where are they? Are they ok? Are they safe? Is that policeman over there making sure there aren't any crazy people walking around trying to take my kids away? Even more frightening, are there boys walking around scoping out my daughters? Shouldn't there be laws? I don't know something somewhere written down that says "Boys and girls aren't to be anything more than friends until they are out of high school or the parents are ready. Whichever comes last." Seems like a good rule. I am not ready. I think the only reason a boy would have to touch one of my girls is if they are choking and no one else is around to perform the Heimlich menuever. Otherwise it's hands off buddy. When my kids used to fight in the car if they were hitting each other, I would tell them to sit on their hands. This seems like a good idea for boys and girls. Don't get me wrong. I want them to grow up and fall in love and get married and have children of their own. I want them to experience all the joys this life has to offer. But not now. Why? Because right now they are MINE. I know how it works. I've been there. They start liking each other, they start spending more and more time together. They are on the phone when they aren't together. It's all consuming. Then they run off get married, move out and then it's all over. They have their own house, their own family and you are lucky if they call and see if you can still make it up and down the stairs to bed on your own. I refuse to wrap my mind around it all. They are MINE! I waited my entire life to have a family of my very own I refuse to acknowledge the idea that someday they will want the same things.

The entire thing is moving far too quickly for my liking. Friday they run off and don't sit and watch the game with us. Something even I encouraged but then today during church, they didn't sit with us again. They sat with friends. I am encouraged by the fact that they are both wanting to go to Sunday School, which has been something I could not get them to go to for the last two years. I hope they are going to hear the message and not to look at certain boys.

It's funny how one little word changes an entire perspective. MINE! It's very possessive. These children aren't even MINE. They are on loan if you will. They belong to God. I know this, HE knows this. I think that perhaps it's in HIS plan that the teenage years are so difficult. They are a lot less likable during these years. I think this is by design so you will WANT them to leave. This way it isn't quite so difficult when they do leave the house. Make no mistake my kids some days I think will kill me. The way they fight and argue with each other and me. Yet I still find myself trying to tighten my hold. Trying to stay in control of the very lives I've been trying to form so they can live on their own. So when I'm no longer around they won't have to guess what the right answer will be. As parent's sometimes it's easier to make the decision for them ourselves. Surely it would be easier for God to make our decisions and not give us a choice. But like the children we are raising who would want that? That is what is so ingenious about free will. We have the bible and our churches to give us all the information, but inevitably we are the ones who make the decision. No one makes it for us. By making the decision for ourselves we are more likely to stick to the decision.

In the game of life, in the game of parenting where do you turn when you don't know the answers? When it's all SO overwhelming. When the time has come to loosen the hold and let them grow. When it's hard to breathe and you want to cry because you know soon it will all be over. I find in my experience it's best to look up. To hold on to the ONE you can hold on to. The ONE who will walk you through it when everyone else thinks you are crazy. What will you hold on to?

My daughter keeps telling me I'm going to have to let her go. She is in high school now. I need to let her take the first steps to growing up. I think the mere fact that I let her go to high school without me is a step. She thinks I should let her have a facebook. I tried to explain to her that first it's a facebook, then it's the phone calls and texts, then she'll be asking if she can go to the movies with a boy, then it'll be the prom, then it'll be college, then she'll just be getting married, then it's just a baby. It happens in a snap. In my mind I've even picked out the boys who I think are likely candidates. I have devised an interview process. I have purchased black clothing so I can be just within the recesses of the date and within the recesses of their mind. Did they see me? Are they going crazy? Surely this beautiful girl's mother isn't on this date with us or is she? It's a scare tactic really. One wrong move and I'll be there. Since realistically I'm a klutz and kind of scared of driving at night I won't be able to pull this off. I can implant the thoughts and buy spyware so I can have her jewelry be cameras so I know what's going on.

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