I guess it came to me her senior year. She was on a roller coaster that had no brakes. She was everywhere with her life, her friends, her ideas, and thoughts about the future. Our two oldest already left home and parenting adult children was teaching me to be careful when to speak, when to be quiet, and was tempering my desire to control. I was starting to relax as a mother which was very good at this time of my life. Had I experienced this journey with my oldest child I would have had a breakdown, but life had prepared me for this.
She got drunk on graduation night. Came home the next day and admitted what she had done. She went in and slept the day away while we sat in shock. It was the last straw. I was done and it was time to have a come to Jesus talk. A couple weeks after her graduation we had that talk. I laid out her options as a young adult living in our home. She had three choices:
- Go to college (she could commute or stay on campus)
- Join the military (which she had already done and already quit).
- Work full time.
If she opted to live at home and go to college, or work then we had rules and I laid those out for her. If she opted to work full time then we would set an age by which she had to move out. I didn’t even know when that was. I just knew she needed structure. If she decided this was a time when she wanted to party and drink then she needed to move out. I wasn’t putting up with it. If she didn’t choose any of the options then I was going to pack her stuff and take her to a homeless shelter.
I said all of this in five minutes and walked away. I told her she had six weeks to make a decision and if she didn’t I would take her to a homeless shelter. We were done with the ride she had taken us on. I went in the other room and cried my heart out. It was one of the hardest thing I have ever done. Well until our next trial with one of our other kids.
She chose option one, and then three, and then back to one and in between was a lot of—a lot of stuff like I used to do. During this journey I could see more and more how much she is like me. I could see how confusion drives her mad, how she is fearful of being stuck, how she lets her ideas and imagination run her life, and quits great things too soon. I see me.
As our children have grown and moved out I can see myself and my husband in them. They are each a combination of us with a little of their own sprinkled in. One day they will change and grow to look less like us, but right now I know their fears, anxieties, and understand their mistakes because I made them too.
Watching my children has helped me to learn more about my husband. I can see how my son’s control issues drive him to make calculated and controlled decisions. I can see him struggle when life doesn’t go as planned. I have noticed that he is prone to get angry when things don’t go his way. I also see a kind heart and sweet spirit. I see it in him and my husband.
I notice that when I feel stuck I go crazy! I am terrified of not achieving goals and immediately start planning my escape when I get concerned change is no longer possible. As soon as I notice that I remember that I am acting just like my daughter. It’s at those times I need to dig into the now and discover what God has for me today.
Our children can provide a mirror image of our behavior. They can provide us insight into our spouse. If we observe and watch we can learn how to deal with ourselves and our spouse. I know the advice I want to tell my daughter and sometimes have to give that advice to myself. I know that after 28 years of marriage I often struggle to show grace and patience, and need a reminder of who he is at heart.
I know we know the verses. Be patient, kind, love others more than yourself, do as unto the Lord, in all you do seek to glorify God, and love as Christ loves, but so many times knowing these verses doesn’t prevent me from seeking my own way and loving myself more than I love my own family.
Watch and observe and perhaps you can learn why you do what you do and why your spouse does what they do. Perhaps this will help us when we are tempted to strike out against those we love. If we combine this with Scripture we will be able to follow God’s way and please our Father.
Have a blessed week. You are not alone.
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