I am inclined to write during this Advent season. I have no idea what, in particular; there is no theme. I anticipate a lack of consistency, which is a theme of my life lately, to be honest. But having just whirled through the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend, which included the 21st birthday of my next-to-youngest offspring, I am bedraggled and worn. I have long proclaimed Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday, and it has been, mostly. But everything changed this year. Not all the kids were around the table on Thursday; they are growing older, and they have responsibilities and commitments to a larger family than the one in which they were born. Wings are spreading; souls are stretching. There are changes afoot, and some of those changes are pulling at the seams of my maternal identity. I’m not sure, exactly, where to stand and how to navigate these days.
I thought I’d have most of it figured out by now, you know. And certainly there are some things I understand; there’s not much that scares me when it comes to parenting, but that’s mostly because I’ve fallen down and gotten back up enough times to know that you do what you have to do, even if you’re scraped and bloodied from the trials; and, inevitably, it gets done. The grace of God availeth much.
But as the days and months and years unfold, it becomes obvious that there’s a lot I have yet to figure out, because I don’t even know it exists yet. I told one of the kids this weekend that I would parent them – in the active verb sense – for as long as I lived, and what that active verb looked like would be different for each child, because they are different people with different needs. And that’s the thing that I didn’t expect; as challenging as it was to raise five kids when they were younger, in diapers, in school, in need – that was nothing compared to the challenges of figuring out where to stand in my relationship with them as young adults.
But oh, it is a rich and beautifully rewarding experiment, for sure. I treasure my kids. I am often in awe of the lives they are creating.
But some days I just don’t know where to stand. I don’t really expect to “figure this out”; I think a still small voice has whispered to me that the ride will continue to be a fast one, full of curves and unforeseen roadblocks and interruption and much that we couldn’t have possibly planned for. You steady yourself and wait for what comes, surrounded by grace and hopeful that there will be more when you need it.
Advent is a season of waiting. There is, at the heart of this season, an anticipation. There are shadows. There is the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; these weeks leading up to Christmas Day are all about the waiting.
And the walking.
And the waiting some more, eyes searching for the light.