I seemed to have struck a few heart chords in all the mamas out there with children either in full flight or teetering on the edge ready to test the wing strength. When the children were little I thought I’d be ready to push them out like real mama birds will do if they linger in the nest too long. It is a cruelty to finally have an enjoyable relationship rich with conversation, mutual discovery, humor that goes deep into memories and a mature love, but then they take off! And hardly look back. I feel like one left on the ground when a hot air balloon takes flight. I wave wildly, but I become smaller and smaller and he forgets me because the sights and adventure from his new vantage point are so fascinating. Maybe I am partly jealous because I wanted an adventure too, but I wasn’t invited into that basket.
So what do I do with myself? Do I plot how to get him back home? Do I make family plans and require him to participate? Do I assume I am still the one planning out his summer? Do I slather guilt over him like peanut butter until he sticks to me? If I follow any of these plans I know I am sure to keep him away longer and longer than I could ever endure. My good intentions can be my worst enemy.
I think back to when I was in my twenties, married, making babies, setting up home and moving all over the country with my business man who was reaching for the next wrung in corporate America’s ladder. I did not feel like looking back. My new life was so free, and fun and interesting. If anyone tried to tether me I rebelled. I might have mentioned before, I don’t like to be told what to do; I prefer to make my own decisions after a fair request. If I ever felt nailed down by obligation, or manipulated, it made me sprint as far away as I could get. And if I had to go anyway (because my husband is far more reasonable than I am), it couldn’t guarantee my attitude. I would be resentful. I would sulk. I would be sharp with my tongue.
I wasn’t right about any of my choices then, I was actually a brand new Christian very stuck in my old ways. I certainly wasn’t as spiritually mature as Donny is now, nor am I as nice as he is for that matter. But it is good for me to remember what it feels like to be where he is. And if I really want him to come home it is best to wait for him to decide to come rather than lasso him and wrangle him back. And that means I won’t get what I want. For example, he is going on a mission trip for his spring break, which means, I won’t see him at all. I want him to do both! I hate how defeated that makes me feel. It means I am not in control. Duh…Exactly. So now my objective is to accept that. And set him free with my blessing.
The secret temptation is to dangle money from the ground and say “you have to come and get it.” Everything he wants to do is expensive and eventually he will ask for it. I cannot put conditions on it because the best love is unconditional. I will only make him angry and stay away longer. That’s not the goal! But I confess it, I have already done it. He talks about his big plans and I think, how are you going to pay for that…you will have to do what I want (come home) before I will give that to you. Or I suggest a trade, if you come home for this, I will pay for you to go there. My husband stops me. I understand I need to put a gravestone on that tactic and be less selfish. Practice unconditional love.This is what I do get: I get to learn to accept I cannot have what I want. I get to look at his life through his eyes and not mine. I get to go aboard his future, not the one I mapped out where he lives next door and I bake cookies for my grandkids, whom Kira can babysit while I shop for cute clothes for them. This translates into having a relationship with him that has no expectations. And I get to open my hands, abandon all the conditions, and trust our love. I get to watch him make mistakes and overcome them himself. I get to celebrate his triumphs and wait to see if he needs me when he falls.
How am I going to get there? From where I sit I am still grabby. I am like Kira with her little hands that open and close when she sees what she wants, and she hoots like an owl until she gets it. This challenge for me is one that requires spiritual discipline, and faith that God is taking my son the rest of the way. Once in a while I might get put in the game to assist, but mostly now I am on the bench. We both are serving the same God and He desires our relationship to be loving, connected and honored. But I don’t get to manipulate those results. I have to wait on God. I can do that because I know His faithfulness.
***a side note…the highlighted sections are for all the men reading who prefer the bullet points to my wordy tendencies…you are welcome. Thanks for reading!