“I prayed for that! This is the answer to my prayer”, I thought as I listened to my son tell me his journey with Jesus and how he was responding. But then he told me of a friend, a special young woman, who prayed more specifically than I did, who actually challenged him.
And I felt a twinge — an oh-so-subtle twinge. Was it disappointment, jealousy? Whatever it was, it was ugly. Because it meant I couldn’t take credit for praying and I realized I wanted to.
There’s something very subtle at play when a mom prays for a child and when that prayer is answered, takes credit for it. When she raises her kids right, prays for them, sees them make good decisions, watches them follow Jesus — and then thinks she did it. They’re following Jesus because of her!
And that just stinks of works and pride and self righteousness. Because there are others who also pray and love, influence and teach my child. But ultimately it’s really all Jesus. He’s the one who creates, calls, and saves.
Jesus didn’t acknowledge Mary when the random woman in the crowd wanted to praise her for raising such a great son (Luke 11:27-28). Because it’s all grace. Grace that I found Jesus. Grace that he gave me a son. Grace that my son now chooses to follow Jesus.
And God’s grace lifts the burden during the times that I do all I can and my children choose not to follow Jesus. I pray, I love and I let God’s grace take over.
Across the yard floats the sounds of happy children playing in a pool. Splashes as they jump in the water, screams of delight, voices calling for mom to bring a towel. And I am transported. Water, sunshine, sand and sunscreen represent the days when I parented small boys who needed exercise and recreation and a respite from the tropical heat. So many happy hours were spent around a pool, watching them make up stories as they climbed on rock features and slid down slides.
Now as I listen to the children playing in a neighbor’s yard, tears sting my eyes. I miss those days but the memories are happy. For my little sea urchins are young men now. They no longer call for mom to bring a towel or bandage a cut finger or rub a scraped knee. They are bringing home young women and trying to decide if they are ready to start their own households.
I grieve the loss of those young voices so that I can receive them as adults. May I recede as they increase. May I allow them to grow and change and not need me as they once did when I watched with a mother’s eye as they played carefree in the chlorine and salt waters.
I have a love-hate relationship with Genesis 2:24 Leave your father and mother and cling to your wife and become one flesh. It’s one thing to be the blushing bride standing at the altar on the receiving end. It’s another to be the mother who is left behind.
So this little guy grows inside me and is wrenched out of my body. I give him life and nourishment. I wipe away tears and enjoy belly laughs. I create the environment that grows him into a man. Just so he can leave. And cleave to another woman.
I am not the first nor will I be the last mother to feel this way. What goes around comes around and today I am here and I understand what mothers before me have felt. I took my husband from his mother and now she waltzes in and takes my son from me. It is all good and proper (they tell me) but right now it I’m not feeling it. I am expected to simply accept this one that he has chosen.
But she can give my son what I cannot. He needs more than a mother. He needs a wife. Someone who rubs bruised egos and comforts broken sprits, who encourages him to do his best and to love God more.
She can walk with him on the next road. I have my own to walk. Remembering my road helps me understand and have sympathy for theirs. And once again I let him go. And I cleave to the one that God gave me. The one I will grow old with.
I took a solitary walk on the beach. I needed to think, to pray, to ask God to help me release my son to the next chapter in his life — a committed relationship and potential wife. I was trying not to have a pity party because the dynamics have changed. I really wanted to be mature and do this well. I was grieving the fact that this change meant no individual time with him.
Then I looked up and saw him! He was jogging down the beach, coming my way! And he saw me! My heart leapt! For one irrational moment, I thought, “He’s coming to talk to me and walk with me”, as he waved, calling out “Hi mom” and jogged on by.
I laughed out loud. What was I thinking?
I am letting go. And it is right.