Our kids need us in so many ways, even if they act like they don’t. While this post was inspired by my daughter, who suffers from juvenile arthritis, it’s certainly is applicable to all of our kids.
When my daughter was 15, she was struck with a particularly debilitating flare up of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She ended up spending seven weeks in a rehabilitation hospital. I was a single mom at the time. Our days cycled through early morning hospital visits, school and work for my son and me (all-day physical and occupational therapy for my daughter), grabbing a frozen meal made in bulk by our wonderful church group and heading to the hospital to eat said frozen meal, do homework (my son) and work (me) while visiting with my daughter. Go to bed. Wake up. Repeat. Our personal Groundhog Day for seven weeks.
Sitting next to your child’s hospital bed will give you time to think. My daughter was fifteen, but she still wanted her mom with her. So I spent as much time as my job, and my son’s needs, allowed. And while I was sitting next to her, holding her hand, encouraging her through the pain of physical therapy, comforting her, or letting her beat me at mancala, I was struck by how much she just needed me to be mom. She had people to help her to deal with her disability, but no one but me could be her mom.
As a single mom then, much of my time was consumed by being the provider for my kids, putting a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food on the table. I spent hours each day making sure everything at work was functioning properly so books and Bibles got published on time. Much of what I had wanted to accomplish with my life and my time had to be set aside for the time being. And I was reminded of the importance of that when I ran across this quote by GK Chesterton.
How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. (What’s Wrong with the World, quoted in Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, Nelson Books)
The last two lines are my favorite because, especially when my children were small, I was everything to them. I am still their world, and the import of that can be staggering. I am continually grateful that I was able to stay at home with them when they were small. And now that they are older, they still need me greatly. Though instead of wiping noses and tying shoes, I’m helping with homework and making sure chores are done. And sitting by my daughter’s hospital bed while she learns to walk again. No matter how much your teens may act like they don’t need you, no one can take your place.
I have many titles: small business owner, editor, church member, friend. But the one that means the most is simply mom.