When I became a mom, one of my dearest, life-long friends gave me some advice.
Whatever I did, do it out of love and it would be the best decision for my child.
Those words have guided me and been in my heart for the last 14 years, my frequent gauge as to what I did, how I reacted, and what I said.
Loving our children should be natural – I know it isn’t always for some. Not everyone is nurturing, or expressive with words; some show love in different ways. My Granny was not one who heaped praise or wasted words on endearments, but she loved in a different way.
Mama is the one who loves unconditionally and quietly, not making a big fuss or demanding.
So, love has different modes of delivery when you’re a parent and is cut from different cloth depending on the person.
But love is love and it is supposed to cover a multitude of sins.
It doesn’t always work that way though.
I have heard of people who have turned their backs on their children for various reasons.
Some of those reasons are painful reasons, too.
It is hard for me to imagine because I knew growing up, no matter what I did, no matter how wrong I was, nothing would have separated my Mama’s love from me.
Granny wouldn’t have stopped loving me either, but she would have fussed about whatever I did until Jesus returned.
Nothing I could have done would have made them stop loving me. Sure, they may have been disappointed, and I am sure Mama is still disappointed by some of my choices, but she never stopped loving me.
As a mother, I have said nothing would ever change my love for my child.
I couldn’t foresee there being anything that would make me stop loving him or forsake him.
But let me tell you something, you should never say make such presumptuous statements because you will have a doozy thrown at you to test you.
I had thought of every possible situation my teenager could throw my way and the very one I had not considered was the very one that came up.
I couldn’t grasp it. All the things I had taught my child were discarded and it felt like a personal attack on me since it was a topic I had so verbally expressed my opposition to.
Had he not listened to me?
Did he not care what I believed or thought on this subject?
I was told that it didn’t matter what I believed or thought, it was his beliefs and not mine. He was being tolerant of my beliefs and position, and expected a little tolerance in return.
I was devastated. I was not prepared for this.
I told Mama and she was shocked.
“Oh my,” she said. “Goodness.”
I sought solace in my dearest friends and one lovingly suggested that maybe this was his way of rebelling.
That made sense.
My way of rebelling was wearing Black Sabbath shirts and lots of eyeshadow. I still wear the eyeshadow but have long discarded just about anything related to Ozzy.
My music was the way to rebel against my Mama’s country music. The main thing she was vocal about was my music and her dislike for the loud, headbanging noise she said wasn’t fit for audio consumption.
Was this his way of rebelling against me in the one area that he knew would strike a chord?
“He is trying on different perspectives to find himself,” one friend said, “It’s his way of just seeing if this fits.”
What if it does? I wasn’t sure I could handle it.
“Then, that’s what he is. What does it change?”
It changes that he is not following my way, my path, and the presumption I had that he would be like me in this regard. It meant he was not living up to the expectations I had for his life and the things I had assumed for him.
“Are you going to love him any less?”
“No,” I said. “But I am hurt. Really, deeply hurt. And disappointed.”
“I get that,” she replied. “But he is learning. And maybe this is a time where you love him harder.”
It doesn’t matter what he did.
Just like it doesn’t matter what someone else we love has done that we deem to be a mistake, or some path we wouldn’t necessarily chose for them.
Sometimes, we have to let them make those mistakes and choices and just love them harder through it all.