Summer. It’s bittersweet. On the one hand, I’m practically dancing in the kitchen—still in my pajamas at 9 a.m. and serving ice cream cones for breakfast—because no school bells are oppressing my family schedule this time of year and we are free, free, free.
At the same time, summer means we turned another corner, you know? First grade into second grade; fourth grade into fifth. FIFTH grade—when did I suddenly become the parent of a prepubescent tween? Weren’t my kiddos just toddling around the living room in Pull-ups, smearing popsicle juice across their chins?
Well, okay, they still do that popsicle thing, but still. My babies are growing up. Each year seems to fly faster than the one before. And I just wish I could suspend time, only for a little while, and soak up my children before it’s too late. Before they’re driving off to college or boarding a honeymoon cruise.
Last week I chatted with a friend, the mom of a newly minted high school graduate.
“So where is Abby headed next?” I asked.
“The National Guard,” my friend smiled. “She leaves in August.”
I’m telling you, my heart lurched into my throat.
“Oh my goodness,” I pouted, “your momma soul must be aching!”
“Oh no,” she shook her head. “This is who she is. This is who we raised her to be. Kids reach a point where they need to move on. You wouldn’t want them living in your basement when they’re 30, would you?”
The truth is, maybe I would. If it meant I got to see them, be with them, protect them.
Yet of course I know—that misses the whole point of parenting.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
My children don’t really belong to me. Yours don’t belong to you. They belong to God first. He created them—they are His handiwork, His masterpiece—and he placed them purposefully in our care. My daughters are designed for my arms, my voice, my special brand of encouragement and my style of scolding. Your kids are designed for yours—your approach, your personality, your hugs and your tears. God created us, parents and children, for each other.
My children don’t really belong to me.
Why? Not so we can squash their heads and preserve them at age 5, 10, or 15. God entrusted our kids to us so that we can prepare them for the kingdom work that He planned for them long ago, before time began.
We see who they are today. He sees who they are meant to become.
Who are we to mourn that transformation, as though it’s unnatural, or worse, some cruel joke God plays on sappy mothers like me? Truly, the process of our children growing up is perhaps the most natural and beautiful of all God’s created things. And we get to watch it happen.
We get to help make it happen.
If you have school-age children like I do, or little ones at your feet, then by all means, let’s seek the joy in their antics, their sweetness, their discovery of the world. Young children are a blessing in a thousand ways. Yet I rest in the hope that grown children are exponentially so. Because they are the sculpture beneath the marble, the beautifully painted canvas, the three-part sonata from beginning to end. They are God’s fully fashioned, always evolving work of art—ready for the world to see.
And He invites us, as moms, to help shape His work. How amazing is that?
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
So whether you’re kicking off your summer with popsicles and playgrounds, or shopping for dorm room supplies, let’s remember that every moment of this crazy parenting journey is ordained by God. (Yes, even the hair-ripping ones. And there are a lot of those.) I want to be able to say I embraced every season and appreciated each new phase more than the last. I mean, I do hear the grandma stage is fantastic.
But it can wait.
For today, let’s try living in the moment—this moment, this summer, this beautiful, ordinary slice of time that God has granted us for His purposes and His glory. No matter how old your kiddos are, hug them today. They’ll be somebody different tomorrow, somebody older, wiser, and closer to God’s finished masterpiece. And guess what? We get to meet them, every day, all over again.
Wow. That makes this whole growing up thing worth celebrating.
Becky Kopitzke is the author of “The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood” (Shiloh Run Press) and the upcoming “Love Forward: Discover the Joy of Living Generously” (Bethany House, April 2018). Becky lives in lovely northeast Wisconsin with her husband and their two daughters, where her home office is overrun with bouncy balls and tween craft supplies. For weekly, keeping-it-real encouragement, visit Becky at beckykopitzke.com.