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Watching your grown kids suffer is the worst kind of pain...and an opportunity for transformation

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So, I've been parenting for a minute. My kids are all in their 20s, and I carried around this funny notion for years that this gig would level out over time, you know, get easier as my kids got older. Pff.

Spoiler alert for all you mommas of young kids, I've said this before and I apologize in advance yet again for letting you in on this secret: parenting from the empty side of the nest can be exponentially more challenging than other seasons. After 18 years of loving on our kids like there's no tomorrow, tomorrow comes. And having to switch gears from being their everything to watching our adult kids from the sidelines as they endure hard things and find their way is not fun, albeit necessary, and a natural progression of life. Not thanking you, God, for the toll this takes on our momma hearts.

But I will temper my confession by saying this season is also rewarding, profound, and joyful in ways that move me to the core. Paradoxically, the light of these young adult years far outweighs the heavy, which is true for every season of motherhood. Thanking you, God, from whom all blessings flow.

One thing about me is, I'm a fighter. Not like punches, but someone who will push and push and push through hard things until I find my way to the other side. Life has done a fantastic job of knocking me on my ass over the years, but I'm not one to give up. However, I teetered on a dangerous edge for a bit in my 30s when my childhood trauma just about swallowed me whole.

But this is what I'm still learning about my warrior attitude when it comes to motherhood, something my counselor pointed out (AGAIN) to me this week: "Shelby, I know you are a fighter. I know you want to fix everything that's broken in your kid's lives, but you can't. You must be okay with that and know you have done everything in your power to be the best mom you can be up to this point in setting them up to figure out life on their own. You can't fight their battles."

My throat tightened, and the floodgates opened as the truth he spoke bore its way into my bones a little deeper.

Not only can't I fight my kid's battles, but I also shouldn't be trying to. I get it at the head level, but my momma heart is having difficulty catching up.

Letting go when our innate desire as moms is to fix everything is not easy. But I'm learning that banging my heart against the wall with worry and fear and angst is even harder.

Even though we have good intentions, we can't live our kid's lives for them. We can't change their past, bend their future, or erase their traumas. Nor should we. Unless they ask us for help, diluting their agency or impeding their experience—no matter how dire things look at any given moment or how tempting it is to insert what we 'think' is best—is a disservice to their evolution and life journey. God put a light inside them to follow, and at the end of the day, they are his kids, not ours. They are their mountains to climb, not ours. They are their lessons to learn, not ours (well, sometimes ours too)

It's a brutal walk some days. But then I ask myself why? Why does it have to be so hard? Why do I crumble with worry and wallow in sadness or tense up with stress when things aren't going smoothly for them? After all, smoothly for them is merely my perception of what "smoothly" SHOULD look like. It's merely my expectation of what success, health, and well-being look like for them. Who says any of my perceptions are right?

The thing is, what's happening to our kids isn't what stresses us out. It's what we think about what's happening to them that eats us alive.

So if we want to experience a new reality that includes less worry and more peace, less fear and more trust, less stress and more calm, we need to start questioning all those thoughts swirling in our head that keep us up at night. Because our thoughts about what's happening to our kids have more to do with what's happening inside us. More to do with the lens we are looking through. More to do with our patterns and programming.

Only when we change the way we look at things will the things we look at change. And one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is our own self-awareness. A guy named Jesus said we are blessed when we get our inside world--our mind and heart--put right, because only then will we see God in the outside world. I tend to trust his wisdom.

When we are solid, it fuels our kid's resolve.
When we are steady, it restores our kid's equilibrium.
When we are faithful, it bolsters our kid's hope.

I'll be practicing this until forever. Thankfully, God and my kids are uber patient.

Anyone with me?

while you live, shine ✨


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