I cried in the bathtub last night.
My dear husband lit candles, poured in extravagant amounts of bubble bath, and set a cup of ice water on the small wooden stool my grandpa hand-carved. Earlier in the day I had hopes of a nice, relaxing bath to end the week.
Instead, I sat in the warm water, looking at flames flicker through blurry eyes.
With my brain scrambled and my heart smothered, I wept over the gigantic task of helping my children remain kids for the short, precious time they have before young adulthood. I wept as I saw myself, smaller than David, before the Goliath-size monsters that scratch for my kids’ attention.
I know well that I will journey through many hardships with my kids. We will have intense conversations. They will experience hurt, confusion, and angst. It is all part of growing up.
What I didn’t know, what caused my eyes to burn, was the age at which my kids would have to engage in such adult concerns.
I also could not foresee how monumental it would be to provide a place where they could just be 9- and 11-year-olds. And maybe even more so, I didn’t realize how important it would be for them to have a space free for their minds to think about things that are lovely, honorable, and pure. A space to oppose the constant barrage of dark and hard and discouraging.
I cried last night because the task feels too big for me. I cried last night because the task IS too big for me. And I cried last night when my husband exhorted it wasn’t all mine to slay.
Four years ago my daughter said to me, “Mommy, sometimes at night when I think about growing up, I almost cry.” She was 5. I remember in that moment wanting to say, “I almost cry too”. And now I do cry because the world is trying to grow her up while she still has kid years left.
“STOP RUSHING HER”, I yell over our threshold into the world. “Stop pushing her into those ‘growing up’ tears.”
As my son’s hands grow within centimeters of matching mine, I scream, “Stop thieving from him what pure moments of boyhood he has left”.
I understand we cannot shy away from complicated discussions when needed. When we pretend, we do it in Legos, not in forgery of the surrounding realities. We do not deny the dark. But we don’t dwell there either.
In a few years, my daughter will be ready to walk with grace and bravery into her young adult development. In less than that, my son will enter his young adult stage with integrity and compassion. But that time is not right now.
Right now I protect, slinging stones when needed, to keep a safe space of play, light, and laughter for my kids. I fight to instill what will be foundations and flashlights as they make their way through the world. My pebbles and I are not enough. Yet I trust as I create room for what is true, peace-filled, and admirable that though my aim be off, my stones will course-correct by He who is the very source of peace, light, and love to keep the monsters at bay.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 NLT