& 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...