It always felt like we had so much time ahead of us. Plenty of time to teach them all they need to know and prepare them for adulthood. But time is a thief. And a bully.
Nothing knocks the breath out of you faster than watching your child go from toddler to teen overnight.
Standing at the starting line of a new school year always makes me a little nostalgic. I think back to the years of buying little lunch boxes and tiny erasers shaped like fruit.
Now our school supply list demands things like a TI-84 calculator and a flash drive.
Although this school year is so unpredictable because of COVID-19, I do know one thing that’s certain. My daughter is two years away from graduation, with her sister not far behind. No matter what school looks like—remote learning, in-person, or something in between—the clock won’t stop.
They’ll soon be on their way to adulthood.
I start to feel the tightening of the all too familiar knot in my stomach as my mind scrambles, trying to replay every detail of the last decade.
I feel like I’m losing my grip on all those precious years entrusted to me to teach, guide, and prepare. They’re slipping through my fingers like sand.
And I worry that I wasn’t enough.
My kids are growing faster than my heart can handle.
We’ve exchanged Polly Pockets for makeup and flat irons. I wrestle with anticipating what the future holds while clinging to the memories of the past.
As I brace myself for their impending launch into the world, I find myself questioning if I was enough.
Did I play with them enough? Did I take them to the park enough? Did I hold them enough? Praise them enough? Cuddle them enough? Braid their hair enough? Love them enough?
It’s a quick downward spiral, and once it begins, it can be impossible to pull myself out.
Parenting brings on emotions you never saw coming. Like turning your back on a wave, it can knock you down out of nowhere, often leaving you drowning in regret. I find myself questioning the early years, feeling as though I should have done more Pinterest-y activities and hosted more playdates and taught them three languages.
Instead, I remember watching the clock, counting the hours until my husband came home so I could have an adult conversation. I remember being on auto-pilot until bedtime when I could finally catch my breath.
Regret hovers, and I want to yell at my younger self for wasting those days, wishing they were older and more independent. I wonder if I was enough.
But then God reminds me that His grace is enough.
I received that gift of grace one lazy afternoon during quarantine. My teens asked if we could watch old home videos. My typical response is usually, “NO! It makes me so sad to see how fast it’s all gone by!”
The thought of watching those early years play back before my eyes filled me with dread. I knew it could lead to self-doubt and lots and lots of should-haves.
But that day, I relented.
And what I discovered was incredibly shocking. Breathtaking, actually.
I suddenly saw myself as my kids saw me. As they still see me. I saw a mother loving her kids so unconditionally, that it cannot be possibly described with mere words.
I saw us carving pumpkins. I heard the way I gently reassured my 2-year-old as she picked up the slimy seeds (she hated having dirty hands). I noticed how I praised my 4-year-old for finding the last hidden Easter Egg in the backyard.
I saw it all.
Preschool programs, vacations, snow days with hot chocolate, school plays, princess dresses, Christmas mornings, booster seats, sippy cups, diapers, and cribs. I had forgotten those small moments.
Those seemingly boring and routine events built the foundation of their childhood.
A childhood I was incorrectly remembering all this time. A childhood I had written off as not good enough.
But it was more than enough.
I wasn’t perfect. There is no such thing. But for all the ways I messed up, God showed up.
If you’re wrestling with the teen years, and you’re stuck in the cycle of longing for the past while being excited for the future, rest easy.
You were enough. You are enough because God is enough. Our weakness makes way for his strength.
Extend grace to yourself and your kids, especially if they fail their driver’s test or slam their door just a little too hard.
Because His grace is sufficient.