Purpose in Parenting Transitions
If you haven’t already read Bridgette Tomlin’s introduction blog for this theme of transitions, you should do so! She sets up so perfectly the mom-life of transitioning. The definition of transition means “a time period when a shift or change is happening.”
Doesn’t that just scream motherhood/parenting? Every time a parent gets used to one season, learns all the tricks, and figures out just a little bit about that season, it changes. You start to feel comfortable with an infant, like you totally got the hang of this parenting thing, and then they start to roll, sit up, pull up, crawl, then walk! Life is completely different with a sedentary infant than with mobile toddler. It"s an 'all hands on deck, head on swivel, never sit down again' stage!
If that stage is a difficult transition, imagine the transition from pre-teen, to teen, to young adult leaving the house. I am in that stage. My daughter turns 18 this month and she will not be living in my home this time next year. I randomly just begin to cry all the time, contemplating this loss. I have watched my sister-in-law gracefully travel through this transition twice, so I know that it can be done, but it seems so hard to walk through.
Everyone parents differently — some are stay-at-home moms, some work full-time out of the home, some of us work at our church, some of us don’t. We all have different sets of rules, different expectations for our children. But no matter how we parent, we all face the same transitions. And I have learned that God is working IN ME and ON ME just as much as He is working in my children in each transition. These transitions are not just about the kids; they are about what God is growing and changing in us. As our children get older and into adulthood it almost feels like we are done, we’ve arrived. But God has been leading me to keep asking Him, “God, what do you have for me—just for me--as they take their next step?” I keep asking Him to help me not miss out what growth He is wanting to produce in me as they grow.
Different stages of parenting allow for time, so God has challenged me to seek Him on what to do with time I have for His Kingdom.
I learned this when my youngest child was in half-day Pre-K. She left for school at 8:30am and I left to pick her up at 10:45am. That’s not very much time to get any work done each day. I felt like I was just dropping her off, working for a few minutes and then picking her back up. I stayed home with her after pick-up, with the expectation that she would play and I would get work done. Here’s how it went: We would eat lunch and I would give her something to do, and then expect her to be busy and I would be productive. Nope. She would come right back and say, “Mommy, what do you have for me to do today with you?” So I would distract her with something else and she would come back with the same question over and over. I finally realized: this stage was my time to spend with her.
As I was frustrated learning this, God spoke to me that I need to come to Him wide open daily with the same question, “Father, what do you have for me to do today?” I needed to ask Him that question through all of the different parenting seasons. He has continually reminded me of this with each change.
“Father, what do you have for me to do today?”
As I went through all the early transitions in parenting, I knew God was working on me. Adding another baby, toddler tantrums, sibling fighting, long nights with no sleep—I knew God was working to produce the fruit of the Spirit in me, to refine me, smooth out the rough edges. Those early years really do reveal what we lack, our short tempers, selfishness and weak moments in us as parents. As the later transitions in parenting come, I have had several people tell me they have felt empty, or they’ve finally arrived and were done.
I do feel all those emotions along with the stages of parenting, but God just keeps leading me to focus on Him, on His will and direction just for my life. I haven’t arrived, and I am not empty. I do need to seek the direction of the Holy Spirit now just as much as I ever have. I do need Jesus in all of this. I need his presence and the Holy Spirit to be my guide, my help and my comforter. I need Him as my Father and my Friend. I need to come to Him daily asking “Father, what do you have for me today?"
God has purpose for us in every season, through every transition in parenting. Challenge yourself to keep dreaming with God just for you!
Purpose in Parenting Transitions is Entry Three in Sanctuary's blog series on Transitions. Catch up on the first two entries by clicking here. And then come back next Wednesday for the series finale, featuring a piece from Sanctuary team member Pam King.
Casey Graves is a wife, momma and pastor in Tulsa, OK. She spends her time keeping up with the craziest dreamer and God-chaser she knows (her husband), and being mom to two precious girls that are her life’s calling to raise. She loves the people that she gets to pastor and realizes that God has facilitated His healing in her life through the process of planting Foundations Church. She heavily leans toward Jesus every day to be the Grace that is sufficient for her and power that is made perfect in her weakness.
In her spare time, Casey loves a good cup of coffee with a friend, anything chocolate, writing, and a family date day. What draws her to Sanctuary is her desire to truly share her vulnerabilities and struggles to help others dealing with similar wounds and insecurities that come with ministry.
Casey is the author of Perfectly Weak (Hear My Heart Publishing), now available at Amazon. She has been featured on three episodes of Sanctuary's podcast, Let's Talk with Sanctuary. To hear more from Casey, check out Episodes 2, 25, and 26. Stream at Sanctuary or find Let's Talk with Sanctuary on your preferred podcast platform.