It was a gorgeous morning in Puerto Rico but the weather was doing nothing to improve my mood. Our forced-family-fun trip wasn’t going quite as I had hoped and I was sitting by the pool, a little annoyed I had to wait for my slow-moving and less-than-appreciative kids. I was distracted from my book by a little boy of about six, hopping from one low wall to the other. His mom, following along behind him, caught my eye. “It’s like he WANTS to crack his head open!” I smiled a “been-there-done-that” smile and told her that I have three grown boys of my own.
She sat down across from me, one eye still on her son. I could tell she wanted to share mom-to-mom, the quick intimacy mitigated by the fact that we wouldn’t cross paths again. “He’s an only child. He keeps saying he wants a brother or sister but we just couldn’t get pregnant again.” She went on to tell me that he didn’t fit into their sports-obsessed suburban community so they were trying to find a more artistically-minded school for him.
I recognized her combination of mom-guilt and absolute determination to do what was best for her son, even if she didn’t quite know what that was. I remember when my life was consumed by trying to do what was right for my boys. I remembered when I believed that If I made just the right decisions, steered them on the right path, I could ensure that they would live a faith-filled, happy and successful adulthood. I remembered when I thought I was in control.
But of course, when man plans, God laughs. Did they turn out exactly the way I envisioned when the doctor first put those baby boys in my arms? Not entirely, but then again, I’m not the same person I was 25 years ago, either. Sometimes I get a little wistful that my active mothering days are done but in reality, I no longer have an all-access pass to my kids. They tell me what’s going on, but more often than not, it’s informational—they aren’t asking for advice and certainly not for permission. And that’s ok. They are men now, focusing on careers and (fingers crossed) eventually family life and they need to captain that journey themselves.
Parenting young adult males is much more of a stealth mission than the full out parenting assault of the younger years. I try to lob the occasional advice-grenade their way, even if they are pretty good at sidestepping them. I can still sometimes get away with teasing them and stealing a hug, especially if they don’t see me coming!
So unlike my new poolside friend, I can’t run after my sons to mother them, but all of us have two powerful tools that our children can’t avoid—our maternal love and prayers. No matter how far away they go, those two things follow them, and they can’t sidestep that. I leaned back in my beach chair and opened my book with a smile. My job really is to wait for them, to let them come to me. And maybe take them on the occasional trip, whether they like it or not!