Now, when I see an opportunity of life, growth, and adventure, I shove my kids at it. I do make sure things are safe, but then I let them go. ~ Kara Tippetts from her new book, and it was beautiful
I read these words this morning concerning Kara sending her children off to camp and her description of worry before cancer and life after cancer. I am not sending my children to camp, but I have had a heart change when it comes to worrying lately. Don’t get that statement wrong, I still worry, but as Shelby has dipped her toe into dating I have found myself breathing and thinking pretty close to Kara’s statement above. Go, enjoy (but not too much), have fun (the kind of fun mom would above of) and learn.
I am not blinded by the smiles and giddiness of my teenager, I am fully aware of the dangers that could lie ahead if she leaves her firm foundation. But, I repeat to myself often these days, “she is not me”. No matter how much we seem to be alike or how much we look alike, she is not me. I cannot not enslave her in the regrets of my past, the mistakes I wish I hadn’t made. It is my job, which I have done extensively, to show her the outcome of bad decisions.
Let me stop for just a moment because the family picture that I placed on my desktop is peeking around the edges of my screen right now, I do not look at my family as the outcome of my bad decisions - they are my blessing, my sign of grace. But, even saying that I am reminded that Shelby is an outcome of a bad decision and while is she beautiful and I would give my life for her, we have both had to face consequences because of my decisions. Shelby, unfortunately, has not had a stable childhood, she has been down a long road of failed relationships with me and has no relationship with her biological father. She has also been blessed with a large family between me and my ex-husband who love and adore her, though. The point I want to make is, God had a plan for my bad decisions, but the consequences of my actions have not been fun, have not been enjoyable most of the time. Please do not think that if you start engaging in sexual activity at fourteen, have a child alone at 23, go through two divorces, two abortions, let men treat you badly that in the end you will have my life (not that my life is all unicorns and gummy drops). My bad decisions did not get me here, my choosing to no longer make them, giving it to God 110%, that is what I believe got me this family picture.
Well hell, that was a pretty long rabbit trail, huh?
What I want so badly for my daughters is the ability to enjoy life without the distractions. At the same time I want them to learn, this is the starting point for Shelby to learn about relationships with boys. The fine art of communicating with the opposite sex, what works, what doesn’t. Learning that he probably won’t send you 20 text messages a day, but that doesn’t mean that he has stopped liking you - he is just a guy and guys don’t do mushiness (most of them) the way we do. I want her to enjoy this time and not rush things, anything. She can slowly go on dates without labeling it as “dating” (whatever “dating” means these days). I want her to safeguard her heart and learn what “love” really is, even though things may feel very much like “love” (I’m not saying she is saying she loves this guy - just saying) nine times out of ten, it’s not love. I want her to understand her purity and, to sound cliche, that true love waits. I want her to know those things for a fact and not have life teach them to her, as my life did to me.
Are you with me? Am I making any sense at all or just listening to the sound of my own voice? I will make sure things are safe, but then I will let her go. Because in the end, Shelby is not me. Her path with not be what mine was and I should not sit in fear because maybe it is true - I might actually have done good raising her, so far. Not that I have any clue as to what I am doing or at least it doesn’t feel like I do.