The empty nest. What a wonderful thing! Well, until our kids face difficulties and we can’t do one thing about it. Have I mentioned our blended family consists of seven kids between us?
I used to pride myself on the fact that I gave my kids room to breathe. Room to make their own decisions. I didn’t hover like other moms. I somehow believed if I parented correctly (according to my definition, of course), I could confidently expect the desired outcome.
I also used to think the early years with kids surely stacked up as the hardest. I never slept enough. I couldn’t keep the house clean. Someone was always sick. I could usually do something about the mid-night screams, feedings, diaper changes, and teething even though they wore me out, however. If nothing else, I could rock, hold, soothe, and pray over my child.
We, the parents, held a semblance of control in that we made decisions we considered in the best interest of our kids.
Did we cry?
Did we agonize sometimes?
Did we pray?
During the junior high years we fought with the preteens in an effort to help them see the rationale behind important decisions. A frustrating time, indeed, we still held a little bit of control. After all, they depended on us to get where they needed–or wanted–to go. We could turn off the remote, cancel a sleep-over, or take away the Nintendo.
Then came High School. We taught them to drive. We warned them of dangers, and took away keys to the car when necessary. That’s when phones posed a problem. All their friends kept their phones in their rooms overnight. They needed the phone as an alarm, but we took it away as a consequence and found another way to wake them up in the morning. Again, while infuriating, we could hold the kids accountable to some degree–or so we thought.
I prayed for my kids as they grew up. I know I did. I even pled with the Lord to save them from destruction. I prayed for good, healthy, and pure marriages. I begged the Lord for wisdom when I didn’t know what to do next, especially as a single mom.
The empty nest arrived more than a year ago for us. I now pray for my kids more than ever before. They now make their own decisions, feel the consequences of their own choices, and face the challenges of their own lives. We tried to prepare them well. Now they live in the world of “adulting,” where we can no longer protect, rescue, or dole out consequences.
Mind you, we have seven great kids, but I sometimes grieve over choices made, knowing natural consequences will come even though I made every effort to warn and protect. Like it or not, I must learn to live with their choices. I must face the lessons God wants to teach them as well as me.
My biggest challenge this past year–the year of the empty nest? Will I trust God with the stories He allows in the lives of my children, or will I insist on writing them my own way?
I now believe we earn the “non-hovering mom” title when we no longer expect rights to the outcome, but we love our kids well as they navigate life on their own.