It wasn’t pretty.
What started out as a kind gesture on my part turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight with my teen.
On a summer day, as he slept in, I snuck his keys and took his car to the coin-operated car wash and vacuum place around the corner. I wanted to surprise him with a clean car full of gas just to send him a mom/teen son “love note.”
As I opened his trunk, that sweet, knowing fragrance that I had often smelled in my brother’s car wafted to my nose. POT. It was P-O-T.
My mom heart did flips of fear, anger, shock, and shame.
What if he gets caught? What if he ends up in jail? Is he dealing? How often is he using?
How dare he?!?!?!? After all we’ve done for him! Just wait until I get home!!! This is the end of the line! This car is not going anywhere for a long time! Neither is he!
What in the world?! How did I not know? He’s such a great kid! This just isn’t happening. UGH.
What am I doing wrong? I must not be _______ (fill in the blank) enough. What if they find out at church? Or almost worse, on his team? What will they think of me? And him?
As I finished up the vacuuming and slid the wet wipe over the final seat, I drove home still flipping through all of those emotions, my eyes wet and my heart pounding.
I raced up to his room, threw open his door, and began to yell. I mean yell. He woke up dazed and confused.
It was NOT my finest parenting moment by a long shot.
All my fear, anger, shock and shame came tumbling out in words and threats I don’t care to share.
He fumbled back with excuses and “relax Mom.” Needless to say, that didn’t help at all.
After I was done with my rant, I made my way to my bedroom closet and just sobbed.
What am I going to do? How can this be fixed? How can I make him stop?
At first, my controlling, black-and-white, formulaic parenting reared its head.
FEAR was beckoning and overtaking my mind, my heart, my soul, and even my spirit.
He is grounded. He can’t have a door to his room. No more car! I will drug test him every week. He could really mess up himself, his future, and us! I am going to fix this!!!
Guess what? My natural, very unhealthy, unwise, go-to way of parenting did not work.
I couldn’t control him. I couldn’t fix him.
I was at an absolute loss, one of the first times in all of my motherhood journey that I couldn’t figure out. Or solve.
I needed something. Something different. Something new.
A friend began to pray for me. I began to pray.
Not prayers that sound fluffy and happy and like I have it all together.
More like prayers that were filled with curse words and “help me” and guttural sobs on my knees.
One day, a still small voice spoke to my heart.
“This isn’t about him, my Sweet Mama. It’s about you. I am here to help you. You are not alone.”
I sat right there and cried. This time, not the tears of despair, but ones of hope.
“I am the Lord, your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17)
I paused. Listened.
I sought counsel. From my friends. From my spiritual mentors. From a counselor. And from the Holy Spirit, the most trusted Counselor of all.
In fits and starts, fear raging back at times and supernatural peace overwhelming at others, I got help.
HELP in the form of wisdom, not having it all figured out, and all my controlling ducks-in-a-row.
HELP in the form of guidance, being provided only the next right thing to do on any given day with this sweet child of mine.
HELP in the form of comfort, knowing that God can reach into those places in his heart that I have never been able to, no matter how much I have wanted to.
Lastly, HELP in the form of a beautiful, soul-resting, peace-bringing thought, one for my beautiful, but hurting mom heart:
Even if my 'brain-hasn’t-fully-developed' child makes a wrong or foolish choice that seems life-altering in all the worst ways, God can weave it into their story so that when it comes down to it, it’s the “right” one. He’s just able to do it.
This has not been an easy road for me. It’s been an up-and-down, twisty-turny one. It’s been one that I wouldn’t have chosen for sure. But it’s one that I’ve needed and has allowed me to grow into a much larger space with this God who loves me and loves those I love even more than I do or ever will. I am truly grateful.
God’s got you, my friend, no matter what crazy and hard road you are traveling this week. He’s got your child. Let’s breathe a big sigh together, resting in His tender and loving arms, knowing that He is WITH us and FOR us, and we are not alone.
Written by: Esther Goetz
Esther is a wife to one and a mom to four grown children (ages 21-29). She was born a missionary kid in war-torn Ethiopia but has become a potato chip-eating, football-loving American, Christian wife and mom who has a fierce passion for marriage and family. She’s a little snarky, a little sappy, a little strong, and hopefully more than a little Spirit-led. She’s been driven to her knees in prayer and to raise her hands in praise. She speaks words of hope and wisdom where the heart meets the home and faith touches the family. You can find her at her website: www.estherjoygoetz.com.