The Dichotomy of Motherhood

My older daughter left home at 7 yesterday morning. I didn't see her again until 9 last night. She had soccer camp all day, and by the time she got home, I had left for hockey practice.

Soccer camp was a tough experience. It was hot and they worked them really hard. She didn't really like the food, and she got dehydrated. By the time my husband came home, she was feeling really poorly.

When I got home, I went in and laid on her bed with her for a little bit. This tired, weepy child did not resemble the confident young woman I sent to camp this morning -- the one who didn't even bother to tell her mother goodbye. This child needed hugs and love and reassurance that everything would be OK. She needed her mom to hold her hand, to help her say her bedtime prayers and to give her a hug.

My daughter morphs daily from young woman to child and back again. I remember looking at her when she was 3 or 4 years old, thinking that I could see glimpses of the young woman she would become. And here we are with that young woman standing beside me.

It's hard to know just how much to coddle and how much to push when our kids are changing stages in their lives.

When they learn to walk or speak, we revel in their accomplishments but feel sad that the "baby" stage is ending.

When they head off to school for the first time, we kiss them and walk them to the door, then cry all the way home.

When they stay home by themselves for the first time, we encourage them and give them everything they need, then we worry about them the whole time we're gone.

This motherhood thing is a dichotomy. We love our kids, yet we push them toward independence. We encourage the very thing we love the most to spread their own wings and fly away.

Yet, when our kids are growing -- whether it's from baby to toddler, tween to teenager or teenager to adult -- there are always those moments when they need us. Those moments when a hug, a prayer or a few moments of our time are all they need to set the world right again.

Don't miss those moments. Don't be too busy or too tired to hold a hand, kiss a boo-boo or pray a prayer. You provide the one thing your kids need most -- love and acceptance.

God created you to be the physical presence your child needs. He created this motherhood thing to be a way for our kids to learn to know His presence. When your child needs that hug, that word of encouragement or that moment of prayer, use that time to point your child back to the One who is the source of everything -- strength, comfort and joy. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."

God is all that our kids will ever need. He is all that we will ever need. Even in the midst of changing bodies and life stages, God is there. He is our everything, and in those moments when our kids need us, we can show them that He is there and He is enough -- for all of us.