Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Can mother ever relax?

This is a slightly modified repost from my personal blog from 2013. 

My middle child was diagnosed with asthma when he was a few months past his 2nd birthday. The diagnosis came after a very acute attack, and a frantic trip to the ER where my son spent the next three days, and where my husband were given an education about asthma.

Every asthma sufferer has something that trigger his symptoms. Some people have allergies, or wheeze because of stress or exercise. Our son's triggers were infection, both viral and bacterial. Kids get sick; trying to keep him from being set off was like nailing jello to the wall.

I feel like he coughed for the next ten years. After the diagnosis, it took a long time to get things under control. He would cough a lot at night, especially. It would wake me. I would lie there, listening closely, holding my breath, waiting to determine if he would need medication, if he was going to get acute enough to demand a trip to the ER, or if it would stop. When the house became silent again for a long enough time, I knew it had passed. I would relax, and think, "He's okay. Now, I can rest." It was a wonderful feeling.

This is a picture of parenting adult children.When my son was lying there coughing, I couldn't stop it. All I could do was wait to see if I was needed. When we parent adult children, we have to do a lot of waiting and listening.

When my children were little, it seemed so much more straightforward. I prayed for wisdom to know what to say; now, I pray for wisdom to know if I should say anything. That is one of the hardest things I have learned as my kids have grown up: knowing when to speak. The wrong word can make a mess of things, and a word not offered can do the same thing.

My children are still establishing themselves as adults. There are still "growing pains," albeit much more complicated ones. I continue to hold my breath, waiting, sometimes late at night, wondering: can I relax now?

I don't know as if there is a permanent state of relaxation as a mother. Yes, we release them, and we put our trust in the sovereign God. We meditate on verses like Proverbs 22:6, Romans 8:28, and Philippians 1:6. But things happen: career struggles; a broken heart; a fractured friendship; the struggle to find a good church; learning to live with a tight budget; and, as they strike out on their own further, possible marriage struggles and children of their own. Again, we ask, "Will they be okay?" While they are adults and capable of managing, old habits die hard, and we get into mother bear mode.

Just because our kids can do up their own coats, cut their own food, and tie their own shoes doesn't mean parenting gets easier. To be honest, I find it harder now than those days of toddlerhood. It's hard to just sit. Sometimes, I just want to do something. But I can't. Scrapes and sibling arguments feel like a walk in the park compared to the larger struggles they face as adults. We know what those are struggles are like ourselves, and despite our desire to shield them from them, we would be doing them a disservice to hope they didn't have to go through them. They need them to learn that God is faithful.

So, I wait, and I listen to see if I'm needed. Sometimes, I can relax, but sometimes, I can't. This is the reality of parenting; it's a life long vocation. And we can be thankful for it, because it causes us to draw closer to God, and it gives us opportunity to grow. And in between the times of watching them struggle, there is tremendous joy. We are so thankful that they are our children, and that God gave them to us. We wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. I agree with you that is so much easier when our children are toddlers, and elementary school age. Being a mother is so much harder when they are grown! Diane W.

  2. Cool! I was thinking I was at your blog, and thought you had changed something. I've never been able to comment here, or at Persis' blog, until now.

  3. Our eldest child is in his 40's and I still haven't learned to completely relax because he has such a dangerous occupation. I don't think mothers ever do. And I still struggle with keeping my mouth shut when I'm concerned for my children. I guess we'll never fully rest until we get to heaven.

  4. Being a parent to our offspring doesn't end when their childhood ends.Availability is still a key part of the relationship we have with them, no matter what the ages of our children
    When they were infants and toddlers our children's very survival depended on us providing for their needs. As they grew it became our duty to teach them to take self-responsibility for their daily provisions, their desires and for their deeds. In short, training them to be adults.
    Now that age-wise & otherwise they are well into adulthood our roles have shifted again. We can be our children's companions, confidants, mentors, comforter, and many other roles, BUT we cannot be their conscience. God has that covered for them just as He had it covered for us when our parents were adjusting to our transition into adulthood.