The Beautiful Scars of Parenthood
A few weeks ago, lying in bed reading, I sneezed. Nothing terribly unusual, but I gasped with a sudden and painful tearing sensation in my lower abdomen. Given my prone position, the abdominal act of sneezing must have tugged on the lesions formed after my two c-sections. The birth of my children — scars I no longer think about — left fibrous bands of scar tissue adhering flesh and organs together. Occasionally they cry out at the memory.
My 12 year old son was baptized on Sunday morning.
He told us in the car on the way to church. It was the culmination of many conversations over the past several years; having him make the decision did not come as a surprise.
The timing, however, was a bit of a surprise.
We spent about five minutes trying to make sure he really meant TODAY today. Like, right now today? Are you sure? TODAY?
He was certain; we stepped aside. We had told him already, “When you’re ready, let us know.”
He was ready.
As a mom who has prayed about his future faith for over a decade, I should have felt overjoyed. This has always been our hope and prayer — that he would take the faith we’ve been trying to model for him (sometimes, very poorly) and it would, one day, become his own. He was taking that first step today, a major step, declaring in front of God and a few hundred of our church family that he was accepting and receiving Jesus Christ as his own Savior.
I should have felt elation.
But what I really felt was…terrified. Saturated in worry, I was (am) so afraid. What if he’s too young? What he doesn’t really understand what he’s doing? What if he doesn’t truly get it, yet?
What if I’m not ready to let him go?
What if I’m not ready for him to take this giant leap out of my nest just yet?
What if I’m not ready to let God take care of ….him?
I was young when I made that decision (sort of) for myself. Too young, I think, but did it really matter in the end? Did I not find my own way, my own faith?
I believe that baptism is not a security blanket of protection, it is merely a declaration. An act of obedience. We do it because Jesus did it. The end. I don’t fully understand all the whys and wherefores but I’m okay with that.
You alone can rescue
You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us
let us out of death
to You alone belongs the highest praise!
Every word of worship that morning was a conviction, a message from God to me…
I’ve got this. It’s okay to let go. It’s my job, not yours.
Gabe and I pat ourselves on the back that we are raising adults, not children. We want our kids to launch, we want them to leave the nest and make their way in the world, independent of us and capable in their own independence. We take pride in teaching them to be accomplished and self-sufficient.
Nobody tells you that bringing tiny humans into the world and sending them back out into it are equally painful extractions.
I remember clearly the unique and powerful pain involved in his delivery, the initial separation of his body from mine.
Yet here I am, at the first major point of his adult disconnection, and I am just as weak, frightened, and doubled over in pain as I was 12 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I am glad. I am ecstatic. This is good and right and the angels are rejoicing over this boy-man’s decision and actions. I did not stand in his way, and I won’t as he continues over the next few years. Few years, so very few. Less than when we started. He’s been under my roof and care more than half of our allotted time. He will, Lord willing, be leaving for college six years from now. Six. SIX.
Sunday, I celebrated communion with my son for the first time. We shared together the breaking of a body, the spilling of blood. The tearing of the curtain between God and man. A small ritual, giant in significance. It’s been a full day since, yet every time I think about it, I’m still leaking tears.
At least now I know what I’m in for. This extrication process, the untangling of child and parent, will leave it’s own scars. There will be days when I may suddenly gasp at the memory of what we once were, but, as with childbirth, the beauty of what is makes the pain all the more worthwhile.
The pains of childbirth didn’t scare me away from parenthood.
The pains of separation aren’t going to scare me away either.
At least now I know what I’m in for.
Note to self: when the next child makes his own commitment to Christ, ask someone else to take the photos. For some reason, the camera would not stay still in my hands.
Like this post? Subscribe to receive future posts via email or a quarterly newsletter that positively glimmers with good stuff.
Do you Pinterest? Join me over on my new Pinterest Board: Pinterest-y Disasters – a place to collect all the crazy ideas we know will turn out just awful, or to post a really glorious Pinterest Fail.