On the news this morning, there was a story about someone who had been pulled – alive! – from the rubble in Nepal, after the earthquake that shattered thousands of lives there. It is truly miraculous that he survived, and my heart smiled.
In the same newscast, however, he was described the following ways – a teen, a young man, a boy, a child.
He is 18, this miracle, and no one knew how to categorize him.
This made me think.
When my Big G (older daughter) was 18, my mother once softly chuckled and said that she was, “Betwixt and between” being a child and being an adult. It’s kind of an awkward age, if you think about it – you are an adult, yet you are a teenager, yet sometimes you’re still living at home.
Parents of kids this age are betwixt, as well. We don’t worry about diapers for them anymore. We send them off to school and we celebrate the independence we’ve tried hard to encourage. We applaud their good choices, and we blame the bad ones on “Teen Brain,” simply hoping they don’t do anything permanently stupid.
But they aren’t fully adults yet. We aren’t finished yet. I’m not saying any parent is truly finished being a parent, but we still have those moments when we wonder what in blazes we are DOING, anyway?
Both of our girls are grown enough where Caillou is a blessedly-distant memory. I think of Blues Clues and Dora (pre-princess and girly nonsense) fondly, but now Little G and I watch Criminal Minds together and try to solve THOSE mysteries. It won’t be too long before Little G is using her own map and driving away from here. As a family, we are betwixt.
Facebook is full of “life hacks” and “10 things every parent should know” and “these parents only looked away for an instant…see what happened next!” kinds of posts. But the relevance to our lives, those of us who are betwixt and between, is growing less and less. Where are the life hacks for getting a teen to remember they need sleep more than once a week? Where are the supportive posts for when your teen is going through a crisis, and you wrestle with whether or not they need professional help? Where are the “I looked away…and they grew up” moments that I suspect we all live with?
I realize that Facebook and the internet, with the exception of fml or other semi-anonymous “whew boy that didn’t work” sites, are designed to show us at our best. We want to photograph well, and celebrate what is good. We’re called to do so, biblically – “Whatever is good…think upon those things”.
And there are also mommies out there who are brave enough to wave in the dark, brave enough to acknowledge the fear that is parenthood. I am so grateful for them. Even though my girls are older, being a parent has its own challenges that transcend age.
But there are few Moms out there who write about the bone-deep fatigue that comes from being betwixt. Our own parents are beginning to need us, and to either show their mortality or their weakness. Yet, we are also needed by our children still – those kiddos who are learning who they are, and what their future holds. They stand at a threshold, our children and our parents, and we stand with them – I, for one, am torn between joy at the journey, and a nascent wistfulness that we got here so soon.
So tonight I’ll think about the child/boy/man who was pulled from the rubble, and I’ll rejoice that he can make those next steps into his future.
And I’ll rejoice at my own.