Some belated thoughts for National Son Day.
We mother of sons appreciate just how surprising it can be to raise boys. As we gaze into their newborn faces, we never imagine saying things like,
‘Do NOT throw the dog from the top of the stairs onto the sofa! Just set her down.’
‘Can we NOT use the hallway walls as napkins, please?’
‘We don’t lick the bottom of our shoes!’
‘Rolly pollies are not a snack.’
‘Seriously? Another farting joke?’
‘Please don’t pee outside where the neighbors can see you. At least go around the corner.’
Then there are those situations where words elude us, or they do me. I’m stunned and my mind is so boggled that it screeches to a halt. I scramble to come up with a strong parental reply then later think, ‘What the…?’
Like any parent, I desire the absolute best for my kids which often translates to expecting them to be the very best versions of themselves. But we all know what happens when we place expectations on a situation or person.
“Blessed is the man who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.”
It’s become easier over the years to apply this truth, especially within the context of friendships, (and certainly I have a long way to go) but expectations within the parent/child (teenager) relationship? Expectations, especially ones that may be a tad unrealistic, are so easy to place.
Perfection is impossible so we need to scratch that off the agenda. After all, our kids are being raised by imperfect people. Love is a must. Grace is a must. Truth, boundaries, saying no, following your parental instincts, being wise, having difficult conversations….. yes, yes, yes…
But there certainly exists a tremendous tension between expecting them to step up and make better decisions and expecting too much of them as young adults. Where’s the line? Does anyone really know? I honestly doubt it. Not only is every situation different but so is every kid and every parent.
When responding to teenagers, I find that the line between realistic expectations and unrealistic expectations is more like a a piece of string in the wind. Sometimes it’s here. Sometimes it’s there. Sometimes it’s easy to see but other times it’s a blurry tangle.
I’ve had the sheer delight in witnessing my boys be fierce warriors who stand for truth, compassionate leaders who fight for the underdog, encouragers who utilize their giftings to positively impact others’ lives, and loving darlings who tenderly hold the hearts of loved ones. Why can’t they simply be these heroes all the time? Why do they sometimes choose the hardest paths leading to the most painful of consequences? Because, unfortunately we all make that same exact choice.
All it takes is one glance in the mirror to remember that the brokenness they struggle against – the flaws, the pain from the past, the struggle to discover their identity as unique creatures – these are the areas of brokenness and yet delightful anticipation that we all must address.
Moment by moment.
Day by day.
We can wallow or we can move forward. We can give in or stand firm. We can follow or we can lead. We can be shushed into comfortable expectations or we can speak up for truth. We can hang on the ropes of discouragement or put on our boxing gloves of courage and strategically face adversity in the ring. We each have a choice.
And dang it all, I’ve witnessed each of my boys turn to face adversity with humble confidence and tremendous faith. They are overcomers.
I not only feel privileged that God entrusted me with my precious sons, but I feel honored to journey with these specific boys, my boys, as they transform into men. They are amazing indeed.
To my little stars- Domenick, Evan and Eli-
Never forget who you are. I love you more than you’ll ever know.