Baby grows in mama's womb and her voice is the rumbling thrum in baby's underwater ears. Soothing strains become familiar before birth - and after - it's the sound that makes baby turn reaching for the one whose sound is constant, familiar and safe.
Soon, mama's voice is understood to be speaking mama's words - and they are not sifted, they are accepted as truth.
"No, baby. Danger, honey."
"Try this, it's nummy..."
And baby learns to hear and to trust the 'mama-words' from the mama voice that loves and teaches and instructs.
All other voices add to a rumbling distant thunder, but mama's words ring clear in baby's ears as baby grows and becomes child full of wonder..
And then something happens.
Other voices begin to be heard.
Their words are measured against the mama-words that are known truth, and sifted and weighed in a primitive balance of trust and maturity.
But Mama's words weigh the most.
For a time.
i've noticed my words have at last become a mere whisper to my big girls who are all but grown. Sometimes advice comes easier from other voices... wisdom from newer sources... instruction from different leaders.
And it's ok.
i never wanted to be a bull-horn authoritarian to my teens.... i've tried to be gentle and humble as i've mothered - and taken that primary - foundational - role of parent with pleasure, knowing the honour of that title is profound and my influence over those little lives distinctive.
So i write this blogpost to those who are granted that exquisite privilege of taking on a role of influence in my daughters' lives...
O, musician with the soulful voice who captures my daughter's heart... know that my 14 year old hears the strains of heartache and joy in your music. It moves her.
Be worthy of her respect.
O, speaker with the heartfelt YouTube three-minute sermons. My 16 year old is watching you. She is weighing your words against scripture and what she knows to be true about her Father.
O, mentor - you might not even think of yourself as my daughter's mentor.... but trust me, she does. She watches you with your husband, or children if you have them. She follows you on facebook, she reads the links you post, she tries to imitate you in the tiniest ways that maybe only her mama will notice...
Live your life authentically.
And i hope my whisper gets to remain in the chorus of voices that my little ones choose to allow to speak into their lives... but i feel desperate to communicate to every entertainer, pastor, musician, artist, neighbour, friend and acquaintance that enters our lives - "HEY! My girlie is listening to you... could you be careful with that influence? She's awfully precious to me... i do the very best that i can - but my mama-voice is fading..."
And i feel grateful that i've spent all these years speaking truth. i'm glad they saw me struggle and give words to my doubts, fears and triumphs. i feel joy knowing that every day i did my best to point them to Jesus - the voice that i hope is the loudest of all... and i'm curious and pleased to see what influences they're allowing and inviting into their lives...
The teen years are humbling, awe-inspiring ones... We're only a few years in and so there's still a lot of fear and trembling, flying by the seat of our pants, holding on tight and letting go all at the same time... And i'm learning to trust my babies as they make their own paths, discover truth and begin to engage it, wrestle with it and then express it back to the world. i'm learning to sit back and listen, asking more questions, offering less answers... i'm learning that love doesn't micro-manage and that my littles are God's workmanship... not mine.
And so i'll teach my littlest ones Our Father and Jesus Loves Me. i'll present Truth with love and humility while my mama-voice is strongest. i'll keep their trust by staying transparent... and when my mama voice fades, i'll remain a familiar consistent hum in the background whispering my influence over the ones i love.