This photo captures my 26 yo. son gazing into my eyes during our mother/son dance at his wedding last month. Gah. Let’s just say the emotional cocktail I consumed as he guided me across the floor is still buzzing in my veins. No one can prepare you for an experience like this with your child. You can only know what it feels like when you feel it. And trust me when I say, you’ll want to cram every square inch of the memory into your soul for safekeeping.
Similar to the memory of the first time you locked eyes with your newborn or newly adopted child. When you realized you could see straight into their being and you couldn’t imagine ever having experienced life without them. Nothing can prepare you for the 20 lb. weight that descends on your chest as your love for this miracle anchors into your heart.
The truth is life with our kids isn’t always so heart bending and otherworldly. Some memories we don’t want to keep with us because they are too painful. Nothing can prepare our mom heart for mean insults, disrespectful backtalk, eye rolls, disobedience, or the silent treatment—only a few of the hard knocks we deal with in the tween and teen years. Nor can anyone prepare us for the emotional staying power of mom guilt and how it mentally chains us to every one of our less-than moments.
During these challenging times, we can’t help but long for that “perfect love” we used to share with our kiddos during the early years when we could do no wrong in their eyes. We seem to lose this profound connection as they get older and flex their muscles of independence. And the grief is real.
But there is hope, mommas. Even if you are in a hard season with your teen or tween and struggle to see beyond your present circumstances, don’t give up hope for a better tomorrow. I can say this because I’ve survived the worst of times with my newly married son and have found love and light on the other side of our struggles. I should say “we” have survived “together.”
The loving gaze you see between us in this picture wasn’t always the case. Disdainful glares were the look of choice during a solid stretch of my son’s teen years. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. We pushed each other’s buttons, hurting one another with poor actions and words in the process. We took one another for granted. The heartache was deep, and I spent many a night crying and praying myself raw. Begging God to mend our relationship, heal our pain, and help me be the mother my son needed. (And, while he was at it, would he mind helping my son be the child I needed… lol)
But, despite our struggles, we loved each other with abandon—even when it looked ugly on the outside. Love is what always cleared the air. Love is what always kept us coming back for more. Love is what won in the end because love is what covers a multitude of mess. This mystery is the hope we cling to.
So, mommas, keep the faith. Stay focused on the love. Give yourself and your teen gobs of grace. Someday soon, you too will be on the other side of the heartache, gazing into the eyes of your son or daughter on a special day. When this happens, you’ll be amazed at how little you remember when it comes to the tough stuff. Love is just too big and bold to let any of the tough stuff stick. All we have to do is get out of the way and let love do what love does.
This was a contributed post from Shelby Spear. Shelby is a sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, pro-LOVE Jesus adoring mom of 3 Millennials writing stuff & doing life w/ hubs of 25 yrs. She is the co-author of the book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don’t need to say, “I’m fine.”) You can read her open heart about the revelations, screw-ups, gaffes, and joys of motherhood on her blog shelbyspear.com, around the web, and in print at Guideposts.