They Are Not Mine

I’m looking at my children tonight in a different light.

I’m thinking, “They are not mine.”

They are His. He alone loves them more than their father and I do.

The older Will gets, the more I am frustrated by one thing. What is this “one thing” that frustrates me most about my teenage boy?

It is that I can’t make his choices for him. I can argue FOR the choice I wish for him to make, but, alas, I cannot make them for him. I can only stand back and watch the consequences. Some choices I’m still in control of, some I still have the final say in, but for the most part, it’s out of my hands.

I feel that raising a teenager is like trying to hold on to a big fish you’ve just caught. They are floundering and flopping around, struggling to break loose of your grip, making it near impossible for you to hold on and keep control. Every once in a while they may tire out, give in and you can hold them, but they are slippery, and eventually you realize you are not the one in control as they flop out of your hands.

Not matter what you do, no matter how they may lull you into thinking you have things under control, ultimately, they get to call the final shots. They do their homework. Or not. Study. Or not. Do the right thing. Or not. And some of those “Or nots” have lasting consequences. Some temporary. Some permanent. Some eternal.

Today, my community is mourning for and with a family who has watched their lives suddenly change forever in the last 24 hours. Their life suddenly became headline news for everyone else to see. These are people I don’t even know, though many of my friends do, and I’ve been thinking about them a lot today–about how fragile life is, about how much I love my kids, about how easy it is for them to make a choice that changes everything–forever.

I watched my 13 year old son get in my van when I picked him up from school and looked at him and said, “Promise me! Promise me you will NEVER drink and get behind the wheel of a car! Promise me! Promise me you won’t drink when you are in high school. Please promise me.”

He looked at me bewildered–no idea where this was coming from–“Mom? Why would I do that? Of course not, Mom!” and I looked at him and said, “You say that now, but you have to keep promising. You don’t know now what choices you will make later.”

I tried terribly to hold it together I as I drove away from the building that was just full of children becoming teenagers; already making choices that they can’t take back. And before I panic, before I lock him away for the rest of his life to save him from himself, I have to remind myself, “They are not mine. They are His. And He is in control, not me. No matter how hard I try to take that job from Him. God is vast and great and mysterious and I cannot understand what happened today or the pain that family and those boys’ friends are feeling because I am not. I will just have to rest in the knowledge that my children are His. And He loves them. Even more than me.

Letter to my crib

Dear Crib,

I’m going to miss you. I’ve been looking forward to you leaving, but now that you have been reduced to a pile of boards and springs on the floor, I have to admit, I’ve shed a couple of tears. We’ve been together for over twelve years and now our relationship is over. At least our relationship as we’ve know it. Thanks to Pinterest, I now know there are a variety of uses for you and your parts.

The CPSC tells me that you could have killed my babies, but I love you anyway.

I remember picking you out of the JCPenney baby catalog. I also remember finding a high percent off coupon that did NOT have a furniture exclusion that made you way more affordable. I guess you were my first big coupon score.

I remember putting you together WAY before you were put to use. You were decorated with my hand made 3 sided crib skirt. You are sturdy. You held all three of my sweet darlings as they slept until well past their 3rd birthdays. None of them were anxious to climb out and leave you, though two of them did that at least twice. Ginny was so comfortable in your four walls that she never even tried to climb out, not once.

It took a while for Will to start sleeping in you, after he started sleeping in you (on his…gasp…tummy!) you held Will through 4 addresses. This could be why you needed some help when we pulled you back out for Sydney. My Papa (along with my Dad) took all of your rails apart and reglued you back together. He gave you a facelift and covered all of the teeth marks that Will left when he teethed along your edges. My Papa’s loving hands made sure you could hold my girls past their 3rd birthdays.

You have heard Jesus Loves Me and the “Nighty Night” song more times than I can count. You’ve heard lots of crying and have even held me up some nights as I leaned across your side to comfort someone for the umpteenth time that night. You’ve held Will through colic when sometimes I couldn’t hold him any more. You held Sydney and her wave machine as she was swaddled like a burrito. You held Ginny and her “Silky” blanket.

You really are the last big “baby” item to leave the house. The bouncy seats and high chairs are long gone. Ginny is even drinking out of a regular cup most of the time. With you goes the last signs of babyhood and we move headlong into the preschool years, filled with learning and growing and becoming a “big girl.”

You were meant for a season, and that season has passed. I’ve enjoyed the past 12 years with you. Pardon me as I go check and make sure Ginny is still in bed.

Will in the crib

Sydney in the crib

Somehow this is the ONLY picture of Ginny I can find in her crib–lots of pictures asleep–just not in her crib!