Tonight, around our family dinner table we had a moment that reminded me how things are changing in this stage of life. Big, fat tears started rolling down a 10 year old's cheeks unexpectedly. They were not incited from a sibling insult or a parental word of correction. These tears came from a tender heart that was tired of carrying negative feelings and needed to let them out.
From eyes to cheeks and onto chin I watched the fat tears fall right onto the blue sweatshirt this kiddo was wearing.
Those wet polka dots sent a warning flare to my heart: Pay attention.
Our other two children were excused from the table. As Ryland and I flanked this worried, frustrated kiddo, he talked about his concerns for several minutes. His issues were legitimate. We couldn't fix them in that sitting. So, we did the thing that's hardest for us: We just listened for a bit. We encouraged. Eventually, a smile reappeared and he hugged us both tight.
As we wrapped up I felt a bit shell shocked. It was as if we had walked through a door without realizing it. That door is called adolescence. Children who are no longer unbound by society's expectations, but instead are young people starting to notice how they stack up to others. Coming into their own identities with a bit of angst. Realizing they won't be good at everything. Making decisions about what they will work hard at and fight for. Beginning the process of self acceptance and all its frustrating truths. And taking the hearts of loving parents on a bit of an emotional roller coaster with them.
I have a lot of inadequacies as a Mom. I am impatient, prideful, a bit of a nag and a weak cook...but tonight, sitting around that table and later as a laid in the dark chatting a bit more...I knew without a shadow of a doubt I was made to be this young man's Mama. For all my faults, quirks and foibles, God put us together.
I walked next door to his sibling's room for an entirely different heart felt conversation. As I was still thinking about the tender heart next door, this one excitedly chattered about a great experience earlier in the day, how proud he felt and how he realized giving and helping made him feel like he had a purpose and his day mattered.
As I made my way to the third room I couldn't help but wonder what that heart-to-heart would hold. (I am considering adding barometers to their bedroom doors ;-)
We are turning a corner to maturity, emotion, self actualization and growing up. I have three tweens who will undoubtedly experience a range of highs and lows as they navigate this space between child and adult.
It is not my role to relive these years, but instead to lovingly support, pray and guide them through as one who has been here before and made it. It's exhilarating and exhausting and tonight there's no place else I'd rather be.