Grace To Be
As the last glowing remnant of the sun dipped below the horizon, the sky grew more and more gloriously colored – reds and oranges, greys and purples mingled to spread a coloured banner across the western sky. The reflection of the sky, in turn, painted the sea in hues of burnished copper and gold. We sat and watched as the twilight sky grew darker and the stars slowly began to peek out, one by one. It was a moment to savor and remember. We sat quietly, side-by-side, my husband and I, thinking our own thoughts in companionable silence.
My thoughts grew nostalgic. Here we were, celebrating our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary on the idyllic Cycladian island of Paros in the middle of the Aegean Sea, at the end of a day spent swimming, reading, and exploring the island. And my thoughts were winging home, wondering how our kids were doing and realizing they had grown up and no longer needed me to plan their meals, check in on their homework, wash their clothes or go to parent-teacher meetings. At twenty-four, twenty-two and nineteen years old respectively, our children are all officially adults with their own lives to live, plans to make and dreams to pursue.
In one way, the glorious sunset was an allegory for a phase in our lives that is gone and will not come again – parenting children to adulthood. We spent twenty-three years pouring our lives into theirs, guiding and directing, striving to teach them the ways of the Lord and a Christian way of life. Now that job was done. A door closed. A sun set.
I gave a big sigh. A tear or two trickled silently down my cheeks. I felt empty somehow, deprived of purpose. “Who AM I now?” I whispered to the darkness. Almost as if I heard a voice speaking to me, the answer came to me, I am still their mother! OK, so they don’t need the same things as they once did from me but I still have a job to do, a role to play in their lives.
You know, it is funny how much alike a sunset and a sunrise look at any given moment. Only when you are experiencing them can you really tell the difference. Maybe, as the sun set on one phase of our parenting experience, it was rising on another. Maybe this new role we would have would be just as important and impactful, maybe it would feel as rewarding.
I turned to my husband, “We should pray!”
“What?” clearly, his thoughts had not been tracking mine!
“For our kids,” I said. “We should pray.” And I meant so much more than just praying at that moment, I was beginning to have an inkling of what might be a major part of our new role. We would stand vigil in prayer for them as they made huge life decisions – what job to do, where to live, who to choose as a life partner. We would proclaim the goodness of the Lord over their lives and choose to believe and hope that God’s good plans would unfold in their lives. Our prayer for them would be that they “would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
I am still sad in some ways that the nurturing and guiding phase of our relationship with our children is past. I will always have fond memories (as well as challenging ones) of that time. But I am also eagerly anticipating the new phase we are entering, determined to be the best mother of adult children that God gives me the grace to be.
By Stephanie Smith
Stephanie is a mother of three grown children, currently works as a high-school science teacher and enjoys writing on subjects she is passionate about. She grew up in India and Bangladesh as the daughter of English missionaries. After returning to England in her mid-teens she attended university in Belfast, Ireland, worked as a college professor and research scientist before marrying and moving to Ann Arbor. She worked for Michigan Family Forum, a pro-life group based in Lansing, before having children. She home-schooled her children up to high-school after which she returned to teaching. Stephanie is part of the Word of Life community in Ann Arbor.