I'm not sure where I got the idea that if my husband and I did all the "right" things parenting, our boys would glide through childhood and adolescence and smoothly into adulthood. I'm not sure where that idea came from, or how it is I came to believe that watching them glide is preferable to the reality of watching them experiences the ups and downs of growing up and learning, often the hard way, how to make mistakes.
After all, life is a bumpy ride for us all, isn't it? Why was I thinking our teenagers would escape the inevitability of facing the consequences of their own limitations and excesses?
In the past week, we have come to discover, once again, that our children are on a bumpy ride. They are growing up unevenly, maturing beautifully in some places and not at all in others. Our boys make mistakes, sometimes don't learn from them, and try to please us in ways that end up backfiring. Sometimes, I feel like I am watching them take a ride on a road littered with potholes and sharp turns. Yes, I am keeping this vague because this is their ride, their journey, not ours.
I shared a few bumps in the road with a colleague of mine whose three children are grown. "Why don't our sons tell us when they need help, when things go wrong?" She laughed. "They're teenagers," she said. She then told me an interesting story.
A few years ago, my colleague, who is divorced, gathered her three children in their childhood home. Her children were all in their twenties and my colleague was downsizing from a large home to a condominium in a more affordable town.
"So," she said to them as they ate dinner on the last night they would spend in the house. "Tell me what was going on when you were in high school. Tell me what I never knew about." She told me a few of the stories they then told her, stories that surprised her, shocked her and amused her. "They're all doing fine now," she told me. "They just took a while to grow up."
Without rough patches, God cannot show us His grace and overwhelming love for us. I remind my sons to keep reaching out to God as they go through their various trials and triumphs.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed.