Every Mom’s Battle: Musings from a Mom on Cutting the Apron Strings
What is Every Mom’s Battle? Have you experienced it? This post will run along like a diary for a few days. Not a full diary, but just to open my heart to you and share some struggles and victories as a mom.
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Every Mom’s Battle?
You’ve heard of Every Man’s Battle? A highly-recommended book on sexual purity and the battle men must fight every day. There are several versions, and even a couple for women (Every Woman’s Battle). Both are available at amazon, and are very helpful books. But this post is not dealing with the battle for purity, although that is huge.
As Mothers, we face different battles every day. We may not have the same struggles as our husbands and sons barraging us at every turn (or do we?), but we face some pretty tough emotional battles, especially when it comes to our children. For that reason, I call this Every Mom’s Battle. I think you will agree that this may be one of our biggest struggles as moms.
My son is on his way to Peru. It’s going too be amazing, I know. But you also know, if you’re a mom, that there’s a selfish part of you that senses sadness when your child spreads his wings–not because he’s branching out–you want that, but just the knowledge that the end is coming. The end of your days of togetherness, and nurturing your child at home.
So I felt a little of that today. Honestly, just a tiny little bit. I felt more of a helplessness. That I can’t go with him, to fix every need he might have. We both know he’ll be fine. But I guess part of me really wants to keep on making sure his every need is met. I’m his mom, after all.
We packed him FULL of treats and food essentials. He has more weight in food than clothes. True story! Even the TSA officials in the airport got a laugh about his abundance of food. But that was because I knew he had a need–a special diet, and I knew that I could do my best to provide that. Every mom would. That’s one aspect of Every Mom’s Battle, but not all.
But my prayer for him today is not that he won’t run out of nuts. It’s not that he’ll catch every perfect shot on his new camera. Or that he will fill out every page of his journal that I made him (see this post). It’s not that he will get lost or say something silly in Spanish.
My prayer, as I look at my boy heading off to a faraway land, is for a friend. I pray that God will send a friend. Because I know that will make my son happy. It will make the trip meaningful, and bring him joy.
I’ve been praying this prayer, and I’ve been looking around, asking myself, “Who will the friend be?” A boy, a girl? An older person on the trip? I don’t know, but that has been my prayer.
Today, as I pondered this, I began to sense that God is going to work in another way. In a way that I’ve not thought of. Does that mean no friend? I don’t know. I really don’t.
I do know that He is telling me that He’s got this figured out. If our son needs a friend, He will send one. But most of all, Jesus can be his friend. Is this the lesson he needs? If so, then let that be enough. Teach him the lessons that he needs to be strong. Strong in the Lord.
Let God be Enough.
That is my prayer.
There are seasons that each of us need to pass through. While I would choose (for myself and my children) seasons of joy, prosperity, connection, the reality is that we grow more in our seasons of loneliness, introspection, and total desperation. We don’t sign up and say, “Give me an awful experience so that I can turn to You, Lord.” On the other hand, God knows how much and what will grow us. So, if we are truly wanting to be in His will, we can pray that prayer–that whatever it takes prayer. That’s my wish for my boy today.
I followed every update, looked at every picture the group sent. I imagined the details, and even wondered what they were eating.
I knew my son was OK. I could see the few shots. I knew he was alive, both feet on the ground, and safe.
But, with more than a days travel passed, plus arriving in a new country, I wanted to know more.
I texted my son’s guardian, to ask how he was doing. “Oh, he’s fine,” she replied, and she sent a picture of him eating.
Not quite the same as hearing his voice.
Later on, I attempted to make contact, and was told that our pastor had taken Austin out to take pictures in the town. This warmed my heart so much. I knew Austin would enjoy that, since he’d just gotten a new camera. I knew that God was taking care of him.
The day went on and by bedtime I just wanted to hear how Austin was doing–from his own mouth. I knew he was OK, as in alive, but a mom needs to hear “how are you really doing…”
We connected, and once we all heard his take on the past two days, our family felt content.
My heart feels happy. I can see that God does have good ways. It’s good to see my son stretching his wings. He needs to stand on his own two feet, without me. Ouch.
Not much news from today. I knew the team had a busy day of touring 8-10 hours. The pictures I received made my heart swell with joy.
I believe God is showing me that He can take care of things.
I scanned the many pictures sent by various team members, trying to catch a glimpse of my son. I found a few, and I knew that they were all seeing sunning scenery, so they were busy.
Austin called that evening. We talked over the distractingly loud noises of the tour bus he rode in. Shout, pause, get disconnected, repeat words, ask a few questions, and the conversation ends abruptly as the bus ahead crashes. Oh well, that’s all for now. It was still good to connect.
Five days have passed since I talked to my son. Five. Days.
I can see they’ve been busy. Travel. Clinic. Church services to help with. Evening meetings.
We’ve been busy too. But I think of him every moment and watch for a picture of him with every new ding on my phone.
His smiles have widened. I see more confidence in his eyes. More enjoyment on his face.
I imagine what his days are like. Piecing together the information from what others send in group texts. But I don’t hear a word from my son all these days, and I miss his voice.
Honestly, I’m doing pretty well. I show his pictures to everyone who cares to look, and feel so glad that he’s growing. Stretching.
I feel happy. The sacrifices seem worth it.
Then he called.
Something I can’t describe has hit me. He called, but doesn’t seem to want to talk. He seems distant. Why?
Lord, you’re going to have to help me! You’re going to have to help him too. I can’t be there, and I don’t know what’s the matter. He says he’s fine. But my heart says something is wrong.
So I pray.
I pray hard.
My mother heart aches and tears flow. My son is fine without me. Is that why I’m sad? It feels like there’s something else, something I can’t put my finger on.
Lord, You know what my son’s heart needs. Please speak to his heart. Do what it takes to save him for Your kingdom.
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
I’ve been pouring out my petitions to God on behalf of my son. As I should. But Lord, I am really gonna need you to carry me too. This is too much for me alone. I need a word from you. Help me to trust You, and please don’t stop working in Austin’s heart! Give me your strength.
Just you and me, Lord
Day 10? I’ve lost count.
My husband tries to understand. He really does. But he just doesn’t get it. It’s OK. At least he tried.
No word whatsoever. But the Lord has a word for me.
I’m struggling a lot. It’s not missing my son, but a little arrow that has pierced my heart.
In my struggle, I have turned to my Savior. He alone can bring healing. He can give hope.
I turned to my Bible and my prayer cards. They have Bible promises on them, and the Lord has directed me to find a balm for my soul.
Here are some words sent for me. Maybe they will touch your heart as well.
Today he is just as ready to listen to the petitions of his people. ‘His hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear;’ and if Christian parents seek him earnestly, He will fill their mouths with arguments, and, for His name’s sake, will work mightily in their behalf in the conversion of their children.
Christian Education, p 236
And this one is precious to me as well!
In answer to fervent prayer, God can turn the thoughts and hearts of men (even children) as He turns the waters of the Red Sea.
Review and Herald, Dec. 30, 1902
Beware. Bitterness creeps slowly in, and before you know it, you’re a martyr. In your own mind, that is.
I believe that prayer and claiming promises for myself and my son are the only way to root out bitterness. Then my problem becomes God’s problem.
After the last two days of tears, and trying to stay busy, I again turned to the Lord in the night. I texted a quick check in to my son’s guardian, and tried to sleep.
What He impressed me with was not easy. “It’s time to back off. He needs his freedom. He’s spreading his wings.”
What seemed to me like rejection was something natural that had to happen. Hard for me; freeing for a sixteen-year old.
He is a big boy. He really can take care of himself in many ways, and he needs to try. Without me hovering over him to make sure he’s ok.
But that’s hard!
Yep, it’s hard. I remembered another friend telling me that her teenaged son wouldn’t call home, and he even had a phone of his own. He knew he was OK, so why should she be worrying?
This same friend recommended a book awhile back, that I had not read. Now, I decided it was time.
So I grabbed the book, That’s My Teenage Son, off Kindle, so that I could read it right away.
Every Mom’s Battle
I began to realize that what I am going through, every mom goes through. That’s why I call this Every Mom’s Battle. I didn’t see coming, but it’s a process of cutting the apron strings. A necessary, albeit painful process for moms.
I determined that I would give space. I know my son is fine. I see occasional pictures of him. Sure, I’d love it if he’d call and say that he misses me, but that’s a bit unrealistic for a 16-yr old boy. He might not even know how he’s feeling. Many changes are happening–hormonal, relational, spiritual, and physical. It’s a confusing time.
Let go of the hurt
Yes, the Lord has called me to let go of my hurt feelings. There will be more instances of testing the independence, and how I respond will further push away or provide a safe place to return. That’s part of Every Mom’s Battle as well, isn’t it?
Blessed Mentors for Every Mom’s Battle
God provided some good friends to share with, who encouraged me in this new phase of my life. Each lady, in her own way, reassured me that the pain I feel/felt is very likely not intentional. I can hold on to the pain, or realize that this is supposed to happen.
Also, every mom of a teenaged son that I have spoken to has told me a similar tale (and you can bet that I’ve been asking around). Some boys just don’t make contact with home. They need a little gentle training, perhaps, but their brains focus on “the moment”. As one teen told his mom, “I have to move forward; I can’t always be looking back (home)!”
Boys live in the present, and don’t do so well at multitasking to think beyond that. Of course, this has positive and negative repercussions, but it does explain how they don’t like to stop “living” to go “check in.”
Let Go…Just a Bit
No one wants to see a boy who’s never grown up, who clings to his mom, and relies on her to make his decisions. I don’t want that for my son. No way! I want him to be a strong, confident young man, who knows that he has the tools to face the world, and I want to see that we’ve raised him to succeed! So if he needs to tell me that he’s fine, I want to know that he will be fine–without me. Ouch.
Yes, it hurts a little. But it also makes me proud. I see the smile on his face, and I know that this is what I want for him!
What does this mean for me?
It means that I will wisely follow the advice of my godly female friends. I will back off, even if my heart screams at me to “check in”.
I will trust my son, and gladly expect that he will do his best. I will trust my God–He is able to impress the heart of my son, near or far. I will trust his promises. “I will contend with them that contend with you, and I will save your children.” What a promise!
God is good. He has done a work in me that I could not have imagined. I have had one victory in the battle that every mom will face.
He will do the same for you.
You want to know what happened when my son finally returned, don’t you?
I wondered too!
Would he act cool toward me upon arrival? Or what?
No worries! My son is the same son who left, just a bit more experienced and hopefully a bit wiser. But when we got back to the house, instead of hopping straight into bed (at 1:30 am), my son turned into a real chatterbox!
It seems to me that those days of silence were putting money into the bank, and now we are making some big withdrawals. Fine with me! We all listen with interest, and I close my eyes and whisper, “Thank you Lord! Your way is always best!”
Remember–The Battle Belongs to the Lord!