Recently, my daughter got her temporary driver’s license. She did quite well on her maiden voyage around the neighborhood (and I must add, she smiles while she drives. Very cute.) As I sat in the passenger seat, I was quickly reminded of how much there is to think about when one is driving…the position on the road, the pressure on the accelerator and brake, monitoring speed, navigating turns, watching for oncoming traffic. I experienced an exhilarated terror throughout our mile-long journey… occasionally grabbing the steering wheel, insisting, “Slow down!” or “Watch out!” while at the same time, marveling at the confident young woman she is becoming.
Teaching her to drive is rather like teaching a child to walk. You stand expectantly, with exhilarated terror, as your child wobbles back and forth awkwardly. You keep your arms at the ready, so you can grab your blubbery, smiling toddler and prevent a massive failure during those first few steps. Soon, those chunky legs begin to thin out, and the steps become smoother and quicken into sprints. By the end of the day, you have said, “Slow down!” or “Stop” or “Watch out” about a million times. Still, you look fondly at that toddler with a wry grin (and some exasperation), sighing, “What am I going to do with you?”
My children are both teenagers now. Our toddling days are long gone, and I’m observing their burgeoning independence, holding my breath with both anticipation and worry. Our daughter has begun receiving college information in the mail and she is discussing careers that interest her. She opened a bank account this summer. Our son has suddenly undergone a growth spurt that has him looking me eye to eye…a strong jaw line is present where pudgy cheeks used to be, and his broadening shoulders tell me he’ll be stronger than I am very soon. In both kids, we are noticing increased confidence, more deliberate decision-making, and more sophisticated (and wickedly funny…) humor.
When my kids were little, I felt like I was always wiping something…a nose, a countertop, a fanny. It was so physical. Now, most of my work has “shifted north”…to my noggin. The older my kids get, the less physical intensity they need; more thinking and pondering is required. Their questions and comments are challenging Tom and me to be clear on our own values, and sometimes wisely hold our tongues. They are reinforcing humility in us as well…reminding us in a million ways that we don’t have all the answers. The problems they bring to us now, unlike those toddler days, can’t be solved with just a kiss and a cookie. Still, with all of the pondering (and worrying….) instead of the exasperated and exhausted, “What am I going to do with you?” I suddenly find myself asking, “What am I going to do without you?”
I’m not alone in all of this, of course. Mothers have been coping with these issues for centuries…Consider what we know about Mary, a young mom in a small town, raising a very unique boy:
… Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
Treasuring. Pondering. Loving. Trusting. Anticipating.
I love being a mom.