I drifted off to sleep around midnight last night with visions of my children dancing through my head. One is considering the purchase of a townhouse and sent pictures of the layout, individual rooms, and even the hot water heater. Will he and his wife buy this lovely home? Another child spent at least part of her day preparing for the upcoming school year, planning creative and stimulating lessons for her 6th graders. The eldest of the three traveled to and from GA (near Savannah) for a trip to the LDS temple in Columbia, and I was happy and relieved when I got a text saying that they had arrived safely home.
As the mother of adults, I don’t crowd them or attempt to control them. As strong-willed as they are, they wouldn’t allow it anyway. At the same time, they have good manners and usually listen politely to my two-cents’ worth and then go ahead and do what they’d planned to do in the first place. A mother’s role changes over time, and sometimes it’s hard to know when to let go. I’m still learning. Should I suggest a paint color for Paul and Amanda’s half-bath? Perhaps pistachio green?
This morning I recalled a passage I’d written in Eve’s Sisters, a compilation of essays demonstrating the application of psychological and spiritual principles to the women of the Bible, and decided to include it here. Maybe there are some other moms out there who can identify with it.
“I’m thinking of my old friend June today. Whenever I’d share some concern that I had about one of my children, she’d often chide me and ask, “Jayne, have you turned your children over to God?” I’d try to convince her that yes, of course I had, but she wasn’t buying it. It was almost as if I’d turned them over but somehow continued thinking that He needed my interference.
“I’m not sure how I feel about this issue. I do think that God sends each mother the children she’s meant to raise, if only for a season. In the process, He trusts us to do the best we can to love, nurture, and guide them. It’s an awesome responsibility, and although it was one that I gladly accepted, I still don’t know how much and how long to stay involved. When should a mother back off and “let go and let God?” Just today at lunch, a friend mentioned that her adult child had chafed under her mother’s reminder that she needed to keep the job she currently has, no matter how onerous, until she finds another.
“Should I have just kept quiet?”my friend pondered aloud.
“You’re asking the wrong person,” I said. “I’m still walking that thin line between being quiet and speaking up.” It’s true. I could easily become what psychologists have identified as a helicopter parent, one who hovers around her adult children, poised to land and rescue them if necessary.
“Interestingly, there’s no mention of the term adolescent in the Bible, nothing to connote that in-between child and adult state. Back then, people were children or adults, and it wasn’t until the early days of the 20th century when G. Stanley Hall, a social scientist, coined the term to designate the period between childhood and adulthood. Considered to be the founder of developmental psychology, Hall wrote Adolescence in 1904. Interestingly, this in-between stage appears to be stretching out into the 20’s while young people find their way.
“If only things were as clear-cut today as they were with Hannah. Remember her? She’s the woman who wanted a child so badly that as she fervently prayed for one, Eli saw her and mistakenly thought she was drunk. She assured him that she was completely sober and was praying that God would send her a male child. If that happened, she would willingly turn the child over to God. Eli told her to go in peace and promised Hannah that her petition would be answered. Soon thereafter, Samuel was born, and when he was still a young child, Hannah brought him to Eli and left him there.
“According to the 1 Samuel 2:19, Hannah saw her son once a year after leaving him in the temple with Eli. I don’t think that I’m quite as trusting, giving, or selfless as Hannah was. When they were children, I hovered over them like a mother hen, and even now I’m aware of their goings-on, interests, friends, and activities. I think God entrusted my children to me and that He intends for me to take that trust seriously. At the same time, I’m wondering if this story of Hannah and Samuel has a latent meaning for me, for us.
“Have you noticed that there’s no mention of adolescence as a stage of life in the Bible? Does that seem significant to you?”