My eight-year-old stood in front of a 120-foot water slide with big, bright eyes. His excitement was palpable. God has gifted him with an innate spirit of adventure. As his mother, I was way out of my comfort zone. There was nothing standing between my little boy and the slide that he’d been waiting to tackle for over a year – except me.
I was riddled with fear. This was my first baby. 8 years later, here he stands – so ready to take his turn down this slide.
There comes a time in every mother’s heart when nurturing a son gives way to becoming an anchor for him. We begin the delicate balance of setting boundaries for them and allowing them to open doors towards independence. We learn to step back and watch them dive head first into life, get dirty, and maybe even get hurt while they figure out this whole life thing.
This is where I was hung up. I wanted to protect him and keep him safe, but he wanted to plunge right in! My hesitation was casting a negative light on this flicker of excitement in his heart and his insatiable desire for adventure. He was showing me who God made him to be. I was second guessing, wavering. By my obvious display of fear, I casted doubt on who he was and ultimately, who God made him to be.
As they’ve grown, finding my footing as a mother to sons has been clumsy at best. If I am being really honest with you, each season of letting go and trusting the Lord with my children has always been a deep struggle for me, but the Lord keeps providing opportunities to trust Him with them.
Summer opens wide the doors to the hearts of little boys and lots of opportunities for moms to begin letting go, slowly. It’s all dirt and sweat, bugs and smelly shoes. It’s exploring the outdoors and playing outside until it’s dark. It’s popsicles and water bottles, being bored and being tired. These are the gifts of warmer weather and what makes up meaningful childhood memories.
Summer is a necessary rite of passage for every little boy. In a time where screens are abundant, it takes real effort to not stay tucked inside, swiping left to right and ignoring what’s just outside. This is not the life God created. He intended for them to breathe in the day on a hike, wreck their bike in the driveway, wrestle with their siblings in the backyard, have a picnic on the back porch, jump into puddles after a hard rain, and maybe even have their feelings hurt by the kid down the street. Keeping our sons from these types of experiences may feed my desire for security, but that safety net is misleading because what follows are life lessons left unlearned and little boys that grow up to be men who are emotionally imbalanced and unhealthy.
For the sake of clarity, I must mention by no means do I believe we should throw caution to the wind and not use our natural instincts as mothers to care for our children. It’s just that I’ve learned hovering over them, fighting their battles, and micromanaging the world around them doesn’t garner long-term results. The opportunities to do these things sneak up on us and often are presented as the right choice in the moment, but taking a step back helps gain perspective of the enduring consequences. I’ve noticed when I loosen my grip and give him the freedom he’s ready for, he comes bounding back and cannot wait to share his experiences with me.
And that’s just what happened … Indeed, my sweet boy rode the water slide that he felt was calling his name. I wish you could’ve seen the true joy on his face when he was done! We celebrated just before he sprung off in search of his next adventure. I was thrilled to have shared that moment with him. Each new and exciting thing he does brings a reminder that he isn’t mine at all. I close my eyes and lean into Jesus thanking Him for this wild, warrior of a son we were given and for the transformation He’s doing in my heart as I learn to trust Him along the way.
In these days, let’s open the windows for them, shall we? Let’s say yes more often, let’s allow them to take risks, play more, and linger a bit longer outside for soon enough, the sun will set, the days will be shorter, and it will be winter once more.
Here is my prayer in this season …
Father, for the gift of being a mother, thank You.
For the chance to play a role in raising these boys to become men who love You, we’re grateful.
Help us as mothers to see the beauty in each new season of our sons’ lives and to celebrate it!
Make us a soft place to land for them in a world that is quick to anger and slow to encourage.
Remind us that they belong to You.
Stir us to pray fervently for their hearts to look to You.
Guide them to the Cross early in their lives.
Adjust their gaze each day so that they see the hurting and love others well.
Encourage them to let go of the things of the world and grab tightly to You.
Hold them close and when they make a wrong turn – make a path for them.
Foster the desire for adventure You’ve given them.
Draw them into the beauty of the world You’ve created.
Shine bright through each chapter of their lives.
And even when they’re men, may they always be in their hearts – the boys of summer …