My middle child was diagnosed with asthma when he was 2 1/2 years old. The diagnosis came after a very acute attack, and a frantic trip to the ER where my son spent the next three days, and we got an education.
Every asthma sufferer has something that trigger his symptoms. Some people have allergies, or wheeze because of stress or exercise. Our son's triggers were infection, both viral and bacterial. Kids get sick; trying to keep him from being set off was like nailing jello to the wall.
I feel like he coughed for the next ten years. After the diagnosis, it took a long time to get things under control. He would cough a lot at night. It would wake me. I would lie there, listening closely, waiting to see if he would need medication, if he was going to get acute enough to demand a trip to the ER, or if it would stop. When the house became silent again for a long enough time, I knew it had passed. I would relax, and think, "He's okay. Now, I can rest." It was a wonderful feeling.
I was thinking recently how much of a picture that is to my parenting adult children. When my son was lying there coughing, I couldn't stop it. All I could do was wait to see if I was needed. That is a lot like parenting an older teen and young adult. We have to do a lot of waiting and listening.
When my children were little, it seemed so much more straightforward. I prayed for wisdom to know what to say; now, I pray for wisdom to know when to be quiet. That is one of the hardest things I have learned as my kids have grown up: knowing when to be quiet. It can be quite crucial. The wrong word can make a mess of things, and a word not offered can do the same thing.
A number of weeks ago, as one of my children went through a pretty difficult trial, I thought to myself, "I just want to feel like I can rest." It was very much like that hopeful anticipation I had as I lay awake at night, waiting for the next heave of my son's little chest; can I relax now?
I'm beginning to think that there is no permanent state of relaxation as a mother. Yes, we release them, and we put our trust in the sovereign God. We think of verses like Proverbs 22:6, Romans 8:28, and Philippians 1:6. But things happen, even as big people, and once again, our guard is up. A hard boss; struggling to pass a course; a broken heart; a fractured friendship; difficulty settling into a church as a single person; learning to live with a tight budget. Again, we may ask, "Will they be okay?" While they are adults and capable of managing, old habits die hard, and we get into mother bear mode.
Just because our kids can do up their own coats, cut their own food, and tie their own shoes doesn't mean parenting gets easier. To be honest, I find it harder now than those days of toddlerhood. It's hard to just sit. Sometimes, the control freak in me wants to do something. But I can't. These are grown people, and if I step in, I may rob them of the opportunity to muddle through a trial and see for themselves how God is faithful. So, I wait, and I listen to see if I'm needed. Sometimes, I can relax, but sometimes, I can't. I'm starting to think this is just the way it is.
This is the reality of parenting; it's a life long vocation. And we can be thankful for it, because it causes us to draw closer to God, and it gives us opportunity to grow.