Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

Her size XL t-shirt hung six inches below her tush, swallowing up her 5’ 2” frame.

“I’m going out back to find a tree branch for my wall art.”

I wanted to bite my tongue, but gut-deep momma instinct wouldn’t allow me.

“Please put some shorts on first.”

You see, beneath the hanging cotton tee was a tiny bum covered only by some Calvin Klein’s. My youngest, now 20-years-old, loves to walk around at home in extra-long shirts. It’s just her thing. Egad.

We were moving her into her first house, a rental we picked up for her as she finishes out her last two years of college. Think residential area, houses three feet apart. So, I didn’t care if an oversized shirt appropriately covered her backside or not. It was the potential emergencies that unnerved me. You know, like lightning strikes, impromptu visits by a neighbor, or other scenarios in which getting caught with your pants off would be disastrous. Not to be dramatic.

“Daughter, I know you don’t care what people think, but I care what people see. And you should too. It’s not safe for a young lady to be so carefree on a busy street.”

She rolled her eyes, took a mouth-closed deep breath through sucked in nostrils, and marched upstairs to retrieve shorts.

And there I stood.

In the space between parenting and letting go.

In an instant, a projector wheel of memories flickered across my mind screen. With uncomfortable clarity, all the times when I pressed a lesson upon her she didn’t like came into focus. And I remembered how my mom heart hurt as I fulfilled my responsibility to teach her the best I could.

But that was then.

Should I still be doing this now?

I began to wonder at what point I need to let go of the reins. Like really let go. As parents, how do we know when and if keeping our mouths shut is what’s best?

This question stirred in my heart while my daughter went outside, shorts and all. As I observed her through the window, the irony of my predicament overwhelmed me: here she was, a young adult, hunting for the perfect stick like a little kid still full of awe and wonder at God’s creation.

Isn’t that what life’s all about? Keeping the simple, childlike attitude while growing up into a complex world?

And perhaps this is exactly why my daughter loves to parade around in long t-shirts and undies—because living with an attitude of carefree clothes-less-ness is what little kids do.

But that was then.

Should she still be doing a version of this now?

I continued to ask myself this question as we finished setting up her new room. My daughter and I butted heads when it came to independence countless times during the teenage years.

One such battle was when she was a senior in high school. She asked if she could go on a date with a boy she met one time from a neighboring town. He would drive her to dinner in his car. Was she crazy?

“You want to go on a date with a total stranger, in his car, by yourself? What if he starts driving you to some faraway place? Will you jump out of the car? What if your phone dies and you can’t call 911?”

My mind was already running away with worse case scenarios, human trafficking headlines screeched into my peripheral emotional vision.

“Mom! I can’t live in a bubble. Did you ever date someone you barely knew? Like Dad for example! You know, the guy you fell in love with after a ten-minute conversation?

“Um, yes. But that was different. I was in college.”

I couldn’t believe such a dumb response left my lips.

“Yeah, well I’ll also be in college in a few months. What’s the difference? You didn’t even have cell phones back then. Plus, he’s coming to the house to introduce himself to you and Dad first.”

“Fine. You can go. Please text me the second you arrive at the restaurant.”

Ugh. Why does the parenting thing have to be so hard? And why is her logic so on point? Who raised this girl? And who was I kidding? I wouldn’t have even asked my mom if I could go on a date. I would have snuck around behind her back. Which is exactly what drove me insane now that I was on the other side as a parent.

She always kept me in the loop and my worst fears never came true. Yet as moms, we tend to stay on the noodle of fear and angst related to what ifs even after the what if period is over.

“Mom, if this t-shirt were a dress, would you think it’s too short?”

My daughter snapped me back into the present as she spun in glee around her new bedroom—only a huge t-shirt and undies covering her tiny innocence. The joy on her face over having her first real space to call home filled me to the brim. As much as my mouth wanted to mouth the word “yes”, I couldn’t. The shirt was plenty long. And if it were a dress, she certainly wouldn’t wear shorts underneath. So, I didn’t answer. Which is code between us for: you are right, but at this moment I can’t admit it.

What I couldn’t admit was that I was still resisting having to let her go. Giving a daughter wings to fly has a different feel than doing so with a son. The inherent risks of being a female in the safety department are real. And scary. The need to protect becomes cosmic in nature with a girl. The vulnerability strikes a deeper chord.

But as moms, we need to trust God is protecting our kids. He gives us children as a gift, on loan to raise, nurture, and love forward. Letting go is crazy hard. But, by God’s grace, we get through it.

It was time for us to leave our daughter in her new home. I kissed her on the cheek and told her I loved her. “Enjoy the new digs. And please remember to keep your doors locked.”

When my husband and I pulled out of the driveway, I knew I was crossing a major threshold to the other side of letting go. And it is here where I need to remain standing. For her sake and mine.

Protecting her every move as a little girl was my responsibility back then.

But this is now.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Shelby Spear

A self-described sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and love enthusiast, Shelby is a mom of 3 Millennials writing about motherhood and life from her empty nest. She is the co-author of the book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.") , and you can find her stories in print at Guideposts, around the web at sites like Her View From Home, For Every Mom, Parenting Teens & Tweens and on her blog shelbyspear.com.

Exclusively Pumping Makes You One Strong Mother

In: Motherhood
Breast pump with bottles, black-and-white photo

Dear exclusively pumping mama,  Oh, how I see you, sweet mama. (I’ve been you—twice now, as a matter of fact.)  I see you frustrated with your body and feeling like it’s failed you because you’re not able to nurse your baby. Maybe your baby is in the NICU and you feel robbed of this experience. Or maybe, due to other circumstances, you haven’t been able to make it work.  RELATED: I Exclusively Pumped for a Year—And My Baby and I Thrived I see you tirelessly getting up before the baby does in the middle of the night so you can...

Keep Reading

Yes, We Wanted a Big Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Big family silhouette

Baby number WHAT?!?! Okay, okay, I know having FIVE children in the modern world is a bit of an anomaly, but the responses we have gotten from sharing our joyful (to us!) news has been a bit over-the-top. You see, my husband and I always dreamt of a big family, verbally expressing four to five children as our ultimate number. After having three, I must say I had to do some convincing to keep going, as my husband felt our hands were pretty full. I do agree our hands were pretty full, but I still felt our hearts could handle...

Keep Reading

How Much Longer Will I Watch Them Play?

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Two boys at indoor playground, color photo

As I sit here watching my two boys running around on the bright-colored foam mats, sliding down the bright red and green slides that end up in a ball pit full of giggles, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I will enjoy this sight. They’re both growing up so fast—T-shirts with their favorite characters have been replaced by plain colors.  Curtains with Paw Patrol now invite an “Eww, cringe!” reaction. Slowly their boy bedroom decor has been updated to reflect the cool gamers they so want to be. RELATED: He’s a Boy For Just a Little While Longer No...

Keep Reading

The Quiet Work You’re Doing Matters, Mama

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and two girls playing on bed

Mid-morning light spills through the kitchen window as I stand at the sink washing dishes.  “Mom, Caleb just punched me!” 3-year-old Aiden calls from the living room. “He took the remote right out of my hands!” Caleb contends. “I saw the whole thing happen,” their big sister interjects. “It was totally Caleb’s fault.  He started the whole thing.” “Mind your own business!” Caleb barks as he charges toward his sister with his fist in the air. It takes every ounce of restraint I can muster, but I manage not to get sucked into the yelling match happening in front of...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Belong In the Baby Section Anymore

In: Motherhood

I don’t belong here anymore. The thought crept into my mind today as I stood in the baby section. I was there to grab a gift for an expecting friend, but as I looked around at the old familiar shelves, I was hit with a wave of emotion.  Because it’s true—I don’t belong here anymore. There was a time when this aisle was my most frequented on trips to Target. As a pregnant twentysomething with a growing belly, I would hold up outfit after outfit and wonder what our baby would look like. Who would he or she be? As...

Keep Reading

To the Parents Raising My Child’s Future Spouse

In: Faith, Motherhood
Little boy lying on car seat with puppy, color photo

Oh, hey there friend, you don’t know me yet or maybe you do, but at least for now neither of us know that our children will one day commit their lives to each other and by doing so forever knit our families together. One day, we will all sit in the front aisles of a church filled with scores of people who have influenced our babies, but none like us. No one else in that church will know the intentionality, love, and grace of God that it took to reach that day, but we will. The work you are doing...

Keep Reading

Loving Mom (Thanks, Amazon)

In: Grief, Living, Motherhood
Woman and mother smiling, color photo

I was online, searching old Amazon orders for a part we’d bought for our 1998 Buick Regal. The car was Mom’s. She’d given it up at 86 after I said her grandsons would be grateful to use it. She’d laughed with delight as Gabe, newly licensed, pulled away from her place in her Buick, heading home to California. It was a good car, but the original parts were wearing out. That’s why I scrolled through my orders, to see which window pulley assembly we’d purchased last time. As I scrolled, I was struck by all the gifts I’d ordered for...

Keep Reading

Supporting Your Teen through Freshman Year

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom and teen boy

Growing up I remember seeing Ms. Honey in the movie Matilda and thinking teaching must be a magical job if Ms. Honey could do it so effortlessly. This image of dancing with my students, heart-to-heart conversations, and the perfectly curated teacher outfit always stuck in my mind. When I decided to become a teacher, my original goal was to teach elementary. I wanted to be that driving force that helped those pudgy little hands learn how to write, sing at the top of their lungs about the seasons, and be there to help with scraped knees. Over the years I...

Keep Reading

Donna Kelce Is Living the Boy Mom Dream: Her Two Sons Will Face Off in the NFL’s Biggest Game

In: Living, Motherhood
Donna Kelce in split Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs jersey

How many millions of brothers have grown up playing football against each other in their backyards? It’s impossible to know, really—but if you had brothers or are raising boys, you’ve probably seen a few of those pick-up games yourself.  Sometimes, the little boys tossing around the pigskin grow up to realize the dream of playing in the NFL. In Donna Kelce’s case, that dream became a reality times two: son Jason Kelce plays center for the Philadelphia Eagles, and son Travis Kelce is a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. And in two weeks time, those two teams—and Donna’s...

Keep Reading

You’re the Kind of Teacher Who Brings Out the Best in My Child

In: Living, Motherhood
Teacher with student high fiving

Dear Mrs. Izzy, I was a teacher, and I know how challenging busy little boys can be. The energy, the questions, the silliness . . . THE ENERGY. Sometimes they call it “gifted and talented,” sometimes “enriched.” When I taught middle school, it was called “Advanced Social Studies.” Whatever they were calling it, I knew one thing . . . this teacher was not interested in leading it.  People often think these types of classes would be easier on a teacher because the students are so excited about learning. I know the planning, patience, and persistence it takes to lead...

Keep Reading