We have an epidemic of growing up going on over here.
Some of that is reason to rejoice, like the end of another school year ushering in summer break.
But some of it I feel the need to grieve over a bit, like how two of my daughters have long since passed the age of 9 and 9 is a big deal to me. Bigger than 10. Bigger than 11.
Nine is the halfway point to their 18th birthday and halfway through the time I’ll have with them at home.
When my girls turned 9, I found myself clinging even more to family time so I could treasure it and enjoy it while it’s here. Of course, they wanted more friend time because they’re growing up.
Then there’s my two-year-old son, who has always called his big sister, “Tat Tat” instead of Catherine. It’s just the cutest thing.
“Tat Tat go to dance? Tat Tat go to school? I want Tat Tat home.”
But lately he transitioned to calling her “Caperine,” which is still kind of sweet but loses some of the tenderness of a nickname.
I’m sad. I really loved hearing “Tat Tat,” and it’s just one more reminder that he’s not a baby anymore. It’s a little letting go of something we’ll never get back again.
And then there’s my oldest girl making tough decisions. I’ve told her she’s old enough now to be personally praying over her choices and looking to God for guidance.
So, I’ve watched as she’s sent in form after form with middle school decisions.
Plus we’ve talked round and round and we’ve prayed and prayed over her choices about her activities. If she does this, then she can’t do this and this. So, is it worth it? Or should she do something else instead?
I want the decision to be hers. I want her to own it, including all of the consequences involved.
But this is a tough one.
She asks me what I think and the truth is I don’t even really know. I acknowledge the difficulties because there’ll be a bit of sadness and loss either way. You can’t do everything and these are all good things.
Many years ago, when I had just two kids who were both under two years old, a lovely older woman told me, “It’s harder to be a parent of adult children than it is to be a mom with young kids.”
I think I blinked two tired eyes at her in disbelief.
Now I understand a tiny bit. This is what she was talking about, how it stretches us as moms and weighs heavy on our faith to let our kids make their own decisions and then handle the consequences of those decisions.
That’s starting to make a bit more sense now.
This week, I read in Psalm 127:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (verses 3-5 ESV).
Mostly I hear these verses quoted when people talk about the blessings of having a large family with lots of arrows in the quiver.
David Jeremiah, though, said:
The psalmist says our children are like arrows. And what does an arrow do? It goes to a place we can’t go, to accomplish a purpose we can’t accomplish (Hopeful Parenting).
He also quotes Stu Weber:
“…our children are the only messages we’ll send to a world we’ll never see. They are the only provision we have for impacting a world as a distance.”
I need the reminder just now that I’m not losing these “arrows” of mine as they grow up and they grow into independence.
No, I’m sending them out.
They go where I can’t go. They accomplish what I can’t accomplish.
They head into a future I can’t fully inhabit and have impact beyond my abilities to impact.
So I value this brief time with my children all the more because as I pour into them and teach them and pray over them, I prepare and equip them to hit the targets of God’s good and perfect will and plan for their lives.
But it also helps me let go a little.
I still mourn some. I mourn not getting to make decisions FOR them or even WITH them, but instead allowing them to decide.
I mourn the loss of “Tat Tat” and other marks of babyhood.
But I find myself letting go and trusting God.
He is with them.
He can teach them and carry out His will.
Their faith becomes personal and that brings me joy.