I was recently talking to some other parents who like me have an eighth grader living in their homes, and there was a common theme. We all are finding the air of superiority, the exasperated looks and the general jerkiness tiring. What has happened to our kids?
I know this is part of the deal. And as I was remembering myself at that age, I remember driving with my mom once, and I was mad at her. So I told her that she really needed to listen to the words of “When Doves Cry” by Prince. I even sang along so she would be sure and get it. The line I was convinced was written for her was: Maybe she’s just like my mother. She’s never satisfied. I remember my mom turning around. I thought for sure she was stunned by how perceptive I was, but likely, she may have been trying to stifle a laugh.
So I get it. It is hard both as a kid and as an adult to navigate this in-between time–this time when the kids are getting so grown up and then the next minute they act like they are two again. And this time when we as parents are starting to think, maybe it won’t be so hard to send them off to college.
This Sunday I will be preaching on Hosea 11. In that chapter, the prophet Hosea talks about God as a parent—more specifically a Jewish mother. God remembers how much she would love to lift her child to her cheek, but the children—Israel—every chance they got, kept running away. This is all of our stories, really. As God’s children, we are so loved, and at the same time, we have this desire to get as far from God as we can get.
God promises in Hosea that God will always show tender compassion to us, and that no matter how angry God gets, God will not take it out on us. Those are beautiful promises. And as I navigate this new time in my parenting, I’m trying to cling to them.
As my children grow and start to separate from me, it is going to be hard. I will have to be choosy about the battles I fight, like my mom was with her serenade from Prince. I will have to have a sense of humor. But I think mostly I will have to know that God will love my children long after I do.
Because that really is the blessing we have received as children of God. That no matter how hard it is, God is there for us. Just like there is no amount of jerkiness that could make me stop loving my kids, there is even more love in God’s heart.
So I am trying to take deep breaths. This too shall pass. I keep finding as I parent that the ebb and flow of it is challenging. One minute it is great and the next it is really hard. But the Hosea chapter reminds me that there are constants. God’s love and forgiveness being the big ones. I am forgiven, my kids are forgiven, and most importantly, we are all lifted to God’s divine cheeks and enjoyed and loved like little children.