Shared by Amelia Bennett - SFTT Editor in Chief & Content Author
Friends, I need to complain about something. Now I’m not sure how this happened, who put in the order, or how it got approved, but last Wednesday my kid turned fifteen.
And I just can’t tolerate that, honestly, because there’s no possible way that time is moving at the same speed for me that it is for her. Don’t get me wrong—I have lived every single moment of parenting her these fifteen years. For this reason or that one, whether literally or practically, I pulled us through a lot of these years on my own. We’re a good team, my kiddo and I, and I’m thankful that come this time next year I can boot her out the door to drive herself the twelve miles to school. You won’t catch me crying about giving up that privilege.
I’m a Liar
Okay, maybe you will. She might not be little anymore, but those drives to and from school are some of our sweetest times. She tells me about her day, sometimes we grab a snack, and when things have been especially hard we sometimes have a cry. Lately she’s in the mood to hold hands, even, and on those days I’m super thankful for my automatic transmission. With my only other kid waiting for me Upstairs, I am definitely thankful that my child here at home with me is still so tender.
Other times, she makes me want to tear out my hair and run screaming into the Arizona desert. About once a month, and inevitably during a trip to the grocery store, she gets me so riled up that I’m ready to peel off my own face just to avoid association with her. Once she trailed around the store in my wake, jabbering incessantly about Chef Boyardee. Not because she wanted to eat it—I don’t think she even know what it tastes like—but because she was just feeling a wild hair to make up stories about how much she loved him. She worked that poor, fictional man into the answer of every question I asked, wrenched his name into the choruses of songs played over the radio, and when I resigned myself to silence she would wander away—only to return with cans of ravioli to drop into the cart.
What Did I Do to Deserve This?
There’s no way I pulled this crap with my parents. Sure, in my early twenties I pulled a couple smart stunts on my grandma, making her laugh while we baked bread in her kitchen. But as a teen I definitely didn’t feel close enough to my parents to crack jokes at them. Was that because I had a brother to mess with, and she doesn’t? I might never know.
And thank God she’s not the kid my husband deserves—that’s a story for later, and not mine to tell, but we’re all glad she doesn’t take after his teenage years. So what’s the deal?
She’s my Mercy
I have a complicated relationship with God. There are so many hurts that I can’t see the purpose of, and so many unrealized hopes and dreams that I am certain were placed in me by Someone else—but I just don’t know how to react to a Father that seems both intimately familiar with my heart and yet cold and distant and disaffected. And I know anyone with any kind of belief system goes through phases of darkness and doubt, but I’ve been wandering in this spiritual desert half as long as Moses, and I don’t think I’ve got the benefit of a 120-year lifespan.
I’ve been mocked and judged, betrayed and isolated, rejected and neglected. I’ve been let down and pushed aside, told I don’t measure up and blamed for my shortcomings, and poorly loved by those who are supposed to love me best. And I know, sisters, I know I am not alone in these injuries. They are what brings you here, too. And despite messy relationships and loss and grief and pain, illness and loneliness and jealousy and resentment, she is my mercy—“an act performed out of a desire to relieve suffering; motivated by compassion.” What on earth did I do to deserve this?
Life isn’t Fair
It’s just not. Through SFTT and outside our circle, I know people who have been touched by unfathomable suffering. Friends, I am so sorry. I hope you find your mercies. I hope they are sharp and sweet like the snarky wit of a fifteen-year-old. I hope they are as soft and warm as her hand sliding into mine. If they are hard to find, hang in there—they are on their way. And while you wait for them, know that you are a mercy for someone else. Don’t believe me?
Check out Lowe’s late on a Monday night. That’s where we found ourselves this week. I discovered that in the act of rearranging her bedroom furniture, my kid had drastically unbalanced her bookcases, and I’m not about to tempt fate by trusting the wall anchors to hold them in place. I told her she could move the books to the bottom (UGH, Mom! A total violation of the aesthetic she was going for) or she could use cinder blocks (a hideous suggestion, somehow palatable to her—I assume mostly because it wasn’t what I told her to do first). I figured that one look at the concrete blocks would fix things my way.
Barry and Moth
Spoiler alert: she loves the blocks. Well, technically, it’s a paver. It weighs a jillion pounds and touching it makes my hands feel so gross they want to crawl off my body, but she loves it. She loves it so much we bought six of them. They’re designed with little ridges along the sides that are meant to help them lie nicely together in someone’s back yard, but she thinks they look like the spines of old books. She’s going to paint them and name them and then she can thumb her nose at me because there both are and are not books on the bottom of her bookshelves, so she wins and I lose. She’s going to give them all titles and names. And this one is called Jimothy—Moth for short. She chose him from the garden center long after sunset, all while telling me how creepy the empty fenced-in area was, and how certain she was we were about to get zombied. I’m so thankful there were no cans of ravioli nearby.
And if you think Jimothy and his concrete friends are the only ones that came home with us tonight, you’d be wrong.
Despite the fact that our family cannot keep plants alive unless we want them dead (I’m looking at you, olive trees, bougainvillea, and overgrown grapefruit monster in my yard), my daughter adopted a plant this evening, too. This one—some kind of small, pointy cucumber factory with antennae—told us he had been waiting for our arrival, and my daughter responded with his full name. I cannot argue in the face of that kind of confidence, so home he came. I’ll let you know how long he survives. Maybe he’ll make it to fifteen.