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For the Mom Whose Kid is Hurting

The back door opens. It’s late. I’m awake because that’s just how it is as a mom. No sleep until every child of mine is home safe. My recent college grad walks into the family room where I lay on the couch, eyes heavy. “We broke up, Mom.” I bolt upright, dumbfounded. I can’t compute the words I hear. This boy of mine and his girlfriend have been together since they were kids. Seven years. Tears form in his green eyes. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t seen him cry since he was little. This is a girl he was going to propose to. This is a girl I love. Her picture hangs on our family photo wall. I want to fix it, make him okay. I am sad. I am angry.

I want to send her a “please love my boy again” text. I want to buy him a plane ticket to visit his sister. My own eyes well up and I offer him the only thing I can: my presence. This is how it is now. The older my kids get, what they need comforting for or help with are not things I can do much about, I can’t make people like them. I can’t (and shouldn’t) fight on their behalf for a grade or a promotion at work. I can’t force someone to want to spend the rest of their lives with them. I can’t stop the world from hurting them. What am I to do? Offer my presence. In simple ways. Answer their text with a simple “I love you.” Listen when and if they want to talk. 
Take them to a movie, complete with popcorn and candy. Write a “you’ve got this” note. Make their favorite cookies.

Remind them I am praying for them. Offer my presence, Their lives are going to be filled with problems I can’t solve and pain I can’t take away. This might be the most difficult part of being a mom. But perhaps it’s also the most beautiful. By offering my presence, I’m being God (with skin on) to them. I’m not doing the work that’s theirs alone. I’m not fixing the dilemmas they find themselves in. I’m not concocting ways to ensure they are not in pain (try as I might). I am being with them in the middle of the quagmire. I am reminding them they are not left on their own. I am here for them, worrying, trusting, cheering, praying and hoping. There’s no place I’d rather be.

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