I’ve noticed lately that I find myself comparing the relationships I currently have with my children with the relationships I see other people have with their children, especially those I see on social media. Everyone else’s kids are enjoying their time in high school, involved in extracurricular activities or graduated and heading off to college. Parents are posting all these happy moments they are experiencing with their kids. I tell myself to be happy for them, because obviously that is what a good person should do, but on the inside something else is stirring up in me.
Thoughts start to creep in and whisper words of doubt and fear in my ear.
You won’t get these days back. Their life is passing by without you. You will never get to experience these things with your children.If you would have been a better mom this wouldn’t be happening and the one that stays on repeat in my mind is …
If only you would have___________!
Most of you know by now my kids moved out and it was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. This time has taught me so much in certain areas of my life, like letting go of the control I feel like I desperately need to have. It’s also taught me how important it is to put up boundaries to help balance my work and home life, and how to pray boldly for those I love, declaring God’s word over their life.
But in other areas I still struggle something fierce.
If I’m completely honest, some new issues have found their way to the surface.
Jealous of watching other parents enjoy their kids highschool and college life, while me and mine are struggling and barely speaking.
I don’t get it, I loved high school…
and I want my kids to love it too.
I want them to get involved and enjoy it too!
Enjoy the dances, organizations and activities that come along with being in high school. I want to be right alongside them planning and preparing and cheering them on. I don’t even care what kind of school or community involvement they choose, just something that lights a fire of passion under their belt.
Ummm… I’m not sure if I used that saying the right way, I don’t think teenagers need more p
assion under their belt, scratch that.
Anyways you know what I am trying to say.
To be completely raw here, it hurts so bad to hear other parents talk about how sad they are about this being their babies last year at home or the heartache they feel from sending their child off to college. The human side of me wants to say… at least you still have a relationship with your children. At least they want to come home every opportunity they get. At least they still need you. At least…..
At least….. at least……at least
I tried so hard to raise my kids in a loving family environment and teach them about following their dreams and passions.
Why don’t I get the same opportunities to experience this as others I know?
I start to think how unfair it is.
Dude, I literally can get so wrapped up in my own pity-party that I can’t see truth staring me in the face.
Sometimes the truth comes from my husband, and naturally I want to get defensive cause it hurts my feelings, but I trust him. I trust he sees what I can’t, when I am too emotionally invested.
Other times the truth comes from family, friends, songs, sermons, movies and books.
I have to get slapped in the face by the holy spirit to bring myself back to reality, over and over again.
Some of what I feel is valid, but sometimes the lies being whispered in my head are completely false, yet I start to believe it.
I seriously have to tell myself to shut up! Who am I to think my situation is any worse off than others around me. I don’t live in other peoples homes. I don’t see what they go through day in and day out.
When I feel like a failure, I have to choose to believe what everyone else around me is saying… I am a good mom.
Parenting is so hard. Allowing your child to fail, while you sit back and watch is ridiculously hard. I assume I am like any other mother and I want to fix the problems for them. Or better yet, manipulate the situation so that they would never experience a problem. I watched this episode of Black Mirror and a mom had the power to sensor anything her daughter saw or felt so that she would never experience hurt or pain. I know it was a fictional show, but it really showed me how necessary pain is in our life.
We grow and learn from things that cause us pain. Pain comes from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. Mistakes are a part of life. Mistakes aren’t the problem. It’s sitting in our mistake and refusing to learn and grow from it, is where the problem lies.
But how are we supposed to sit back and watch our children make mistakes and do nothing? It feels so unnatural.
Then to watch my child repeat the same mistakes I made is even harder. Why won’t they just listen to what I am saying and trust that I know what I am talking about. It would save us all a lot of heartache.
So this got me reflecting on some of my own mistakes. The ones that changed my life forever. The ones that disappointed my family. One in particular that I have tried my whole life to fix.
I got pregnant in high school.
Believe it or not, I knew having sex before I was married was wrong, so I planned on waiting. The problem was I drew a line, and then tiptoed very carefully on top of it. I knew there could be serious consequences to my actions, yet I made unwise choices when it came to drinking, which lowered my guard. Before I knew it, the line was crossed. But with all that being said, the root of the problem was that I was a broken little 16 year old girl that gave away a piece of myself in order to feel what I thought was love from another person. When my heart was broken from this experience it made it easier to give away another piece of my heart to the next guy, at least this time I felt like I had something to offer that would make him want me. It worked, we dated, fell in love and within 6 months I was pregnant.
I’m not going into all the details now for the sake of time, that’s another story for another day.
Adoption or abortion wasn’t an option for me, although I know many people choose that for one reason or another. For me, I would keep my baby and give him a perfect life, he would never have to pay for my mistakes. But I have failed more times than I can count. Looking back now after all these years I see how unrealistic that goal was.
I have spent my adult life trying to right my wrong and teach and preach to young people that they should wait to have sex before marriage, because it causes so much pain for everyone involved. Especially the children.
Because I saw my choices as a mistake, at some point my child began to see himself as a mistake.
I understand what he is feeling, because I went through the same identity crisis when I was his age. Knowing your parents didn’t plan to have you, makes a person feel unwanted, like you shouldn’t really be here. I never meant to cause him that kind of pain. I wish he knew how wrong I was for believing this lie. I wish I would have realized all those years ago that although getting pregnant wasn’t planned, God would use my mistakes and make something precious.
and when the enemy intended to harm me, God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position, so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20
God is such a good God. The reason He didn’t want me to give away a part of myself outside of marriage, wasn’t because He wanted to control me, it was because He knew it would hurt me.
Even in my wrong choices, He is such a gracious and merciful Father, He took my pain and gave me an incredible gift. God gave me the most precious gift of all, He gave me hope and a future and it was bundled up as a little baby boy.
That little baby boy, along with his sister, motivated me to become a successful adult because they needed me to be the best mom I could be.
My children continue to motivate me to be the best mom and role model I can be, because I know they are watching, even if it’s from a distance.
When life isn’t going according to my plan, I keeping getting up every day and pursuing my best life. I want to show my children it is possible to live out your dreams. I want to show them that no matter what choices, struggles, mistakes, problems, or pain might come their way, they have the power to decide what they do with it.
Everyday brings new opportunities to become the best versions of you.
Although the choices my children make aren’t always perfect, neither are mine, but I know God is. They are having to learn some life lessons for themselves and that’s ok. Would I rather they avoid the heartache? FOR SURE! But if their mistakes teach them to be a better versions of them, it is worth it. If their mistakes draw them closer to God, it is worth it. If their choices show them their need for a Savior, it is worth it.
I was never meant to do the job Jesus came to do.
So I sacrifice all my plans of what I thought these teenage years would look like. I sacrifice the football games, the band competitions, soccer games, Shipmate performances, sleepovers, and so much more. I sacrifice the need to be the mom that did everything right. I sacrifice my pride, when “even my kids” make wrong choices. I sacrifice my control and I lay it all on the altar, and ask God to take it and make it beautiful.
I will let God be God! He is a much better parent than I will ever be.
Things I am learning…
1. I have got to stop comparing myself, my children, and my life to other people around me.
2. I have got to stop comparing my reality to the unrealistic movie I created in my mind.
3. My mistakes were opportunities to grown, they were blessings all along, I just couldn’t see it yet.
If I really sit back and examine the truth, God has been working out miracles in my house this last year.
- Although we missed out on 3 years of Ryleigh’s life, our relationship now is incredible and her relationship with Jesus is such a powerful testimony. I cry everytime I hear her make music or speak to a group of people.
- Devin moved back this Summer and is spending his senior year with us. I have new opportunities to show him how much I love him, and guide him into adulthood. (In the time between me writing this and actually posting it, he has moved out again, but I am choosing to believe this is one more thing getting him closer to the person God has created him to be. I appreciate the time we had and will have each time he comes to visit.)
- Riley is coming around a lot more, we have some really good heart to hearts. When she is around, I try to drop everything to give her my full attention. What I once took for granted, now I treasure.
- Randall and I get to step into the role as Mom and Dad for Susan and guide her into living her best life, we get to be the parents she so desperately needed and wanted. I am grateful to see her take all our advice and follow her dreams and passions.
- Randall and I are closer than we have ever been. He is my rock, he is my shoulder to cry on, and he is my very best friend. Regardless of whatever is going on around us, we always have our PLAN B of escaping to an island, which we have now discovered will be Maui!
I would like to say this battle in my mind is won, and that I will not fall back into old habits of negative mindset. But I know better than that. So when I forget the truth. I have to feed myself with truth. I posted some videos at the bottom that help me clear my mind and keep my faith.
I’m so grateful for people in my life constantly telling me that I am a good mom, even if my kids are not living with me currently. I think everyone could use more of that. We need to lift each other up and tell each other that our efforts are seen and worth it in the end. We need to encourage one another as much as possible. We need to stop expecting perfection from ourselves and others, because that is when the comparison game begins.
One thing I have to remind myself is that I don’t see the behind the scenes your life. Right now your reading my story, but I know you have one too. I don’t know the struggles you have been through yourself, or with your child. I don’t see the tears you’ve cried or the mistakes you’ve overcome to get to the point when that picture was posted on social media.
Just FYI please don’t ever stop posting about the special moments in your families life, just because it makes other people sad or jealous. I don’t want anyone to think that is what I am saying here. This was an issue I needed to deal with. You have every right to celebrate your child’s accomplishments. Be proud, shout it from the rooftops, your child needs to know how much you love them, and sometimes bragging about them on a social media platform is just what they need, even if they don’t admit it.
I would love for you to post a picture in the comments below of one of you or your child’s accomplishments and maybe some backstory to why that moment is so special, or how God took a mistake from your life and made something beautiful from it.
I can’t wait to hear from you!
Here are some things I listen to when my own mind can’t be trusted…