Wednesday, May 16, 2012

teenage failure

Cai's 15...  
& i'm fully aware that she's probably gonna read this...
The thing is... She's not a freshly minted brand new teenager anymore.  She's really in the thick of it now.  She's planning out her last two years of highschool, she's looking at post secondary options, she's got a part time job - she volunteers, is taking drivers ed. and she's responsible.  She's pulling together the threads of childhood and looking all fresh-faced into the future during these busy, steep learning curve years...
& then there's me. 
i'm biting my nails, half laughing in hysteria, half sobbing with intense-chest-bursting pride... but mostly my prayers are something like this, "God - keep her better than me..."
i was a teenage mess up.  i didn't drink or do drugs.  i loved Jesus... but i was so painfully selfishly thoughtless.  (& maybe a lot of grown ups feel this way about their teenagerdom), but i regret mostly - not having the guts to be selfless.  It was actually one of my biggest fears about motherhood & marriage - and then it reared it's ugly head again when i first contemplated homeschooling.  i imagined myself getting bored, trailing off & raising ignorant, illiterate little ones who would grow to hate me for not caring enough to follow through. 
When i was a teenager, i thoughtlessly liked boys... (till i miraculously fell into the deep oceans of love for Neil)...
But before that, mostly i was desperate for love & attention. 
i didn't like my body - every oddity or curve became my central focus, and i spent way too much time in my teen years obsessing about the flesh that's gonna grow old and aged - & will eventually fade & wither away... it's all dust.  i see that now. 
Motherhood saved me. 
Suddenly the body that had never seemed quite good enough was a freaking miracle.  Suddenly my aching void to be loved was filled with a profound knowledge that *i could love*.  Suddenly... or maybe not so suddenly... my selfishness began to be rooted out, night by sleepless night...
i had to cling - & by God's grace - i chose to cling to Him. 
And eventually - over time in these 16 beautiful years of marriage & family - my wise Father used my husband & my little ones - in the hardest and best possible ways... to make me a better person. 
But you see, what i *don't* have... is all the answers.  i don't know how to navigate those teen years, other than the bumbling stumbling way that i did it (& unfortunately - Neil bumbled & stumbled just as badly as i did).  i don't know how to deal with boys, how to deal with friendships, how to be selfless, how to put others first - in those crazy, exciting, roller coaster years.  i did a lot of it wrong. 
Hence the hand wringing on the sidelines as i raise my daughters (& sons too in the next few years). 
It's like watching golf - knowing i can't play and i'd have no idea what club to use or how to stand and swing, but i'm in the crowd on the sidelines shouting, "Get in the hole!!"
There are recipes to these teenager years - wise advice on dating, academics, jobs.  There are brilliant mama's who have raised brilliant young women - who balanced wit and charm with cooking and calculus... They managed to navigate the teenager years holding onto their children's hearts & they know exactly how they did it.  i look at them & realize how bankrupt i am without Jesus. 
& i know that i got where i am by God's grace... & that even if He hadn't been so generous with me - i still wouldn't want to be anywhere else than with my heart in His hands... but as a mama, i find there's a lot of pleading going on. 
Let her be selfless, God... Draw her deep & close to You.  Don't let her make the mistakes i made... when the storms brew & the angry winds slash like i know they will - let Your Name be the words on her lips and the hope in her heart. 
That's what it looks like when someone who failed being a teenager begins to raise them.  That's what it looks like when you know the destination but had to be carried there... so you can't tell them what the road looked like.  That's what it looks like to surrender all... even your sweetheart teenagers...


Anonymous said...

I think that our children will be all right as long as they have open communication with us and can ask their parents for advice or just share their thoughts and dreams etc. I wish I would have been able to confide more in my parents and not be afraid of being judged or bring up those uncomfortable topics (like sexuality). Too many things should have been said that weren't ... Obviously you are doing a lot of things right, so just keep on keeping on and God's grace will cover your inadequacies!

Saskatchewan Cousin

Colleen said...

And this is my opinion - if my teenagers fumble and make the same mistakes you made - and grow up to be half the wife,mother and woman of God YOU are - I will be extremely grateful to God.

Laura said...

Oh, my friend. You touch my heart with this post. So deeply. Tears.

We had a wedding that more closely resembled an elopement. No parents there. My big kids weren't there. I have regrets about that at times, too--but the way Jesus has walked alongside me (also through my terrible teen years, too!) before, during and daily in my marriage is what I was after, also. He has instilled so much growth in my heart & soul. Somehow this post of yours about teenagers resonated with the in me, too -- both for my life as a child, a teen, a young woman so forever unsure of herself, a young mother, a single mother, and then a married mother of nearly 5, or more.

I want to say so much more as to how my soul feels so connected to yours... but the words escape me. For now I will just say I love you. I admire you. I am inspired by Him through you. I am so blessed to have been connected to you through the sliver threads of community, growing in grace, leaning into Him.


Treasured Grace said...

Thank you so much for sharing about raising a teenage daughter. I feel so much like this, not knowing how to play golf, but cheering none-the-less. It pains me some days to think of the mistakes I made and I am eternally grateful to Jesus for allowing my daughter to be so incredibly different.
Would you mind if I shared this story at her birthday? We are celebrating her 16th birthday in a few weeks and for us we use 16 as a sort of coming out, bar-mitvah idea. We invite family and friends to celebrate the child soon to be adult, to encourage them, to honour them and to inspire them to continue on the path of seeking Jesus in their lives.
Your story fits so perfectly with this theme.
Thanks again for sharing,

paige said...

Thank you all so much...
& yes, Sherri-Ann - please feel free :)


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