I was driving home from work when suddenly my message notifications chimed, and stamped across the screen I saw the words, “I wish I had Wifi so you could come get me.”
At the stoplight I read the messages that followed:
“Mom I feel uncomfortable here I want to go home”
“I’m scared of all these people.”
My heart did that Momma dip, where it falls from your chest, into your stomach, with the weight of concern for your child. I quickly realized she could have typed these words hours ago, anytime really, over the last 8 hours. My eleven year old didn’t have a phone of her own, but I sometimes let her borrow my old one. With it, she could message me at work through a child’s messaging app, if Wifi was available. That day, I knew she had taken my phone to an acting class she attended, so she could video a musical number they were performing.
My only thought (after the jumble of cryptically delayed pleas) was, oh, dear… What happened?!
Y’all, they had been mean to her! Some kids in this class had ganged together and made fun of her. The song they had chosen for their mock music video had cursing, and Chloe had decided she wasn’t going to lip sync the curse words like they wanted. She sat the video out! Then, I discovered, as some of her classmates (many older, since the class wasn’t divided by age groups) had been using cuss words in their regular conversations, she asked them to stop. Even going so far as to ask the teacher to tell the group to stop cussing.
My teen years flew through my mind.
Now, let me just say, we’ve explained to our children that this world contains all different types of people, and they are all precious in the eyes of God. We’ve explained that different families have different values, and just because our family chooses not to do, for our own reasons, certain things, that doesn’t mean it’s bad for other families. They understand that they may not see alcohol in their parent’s hands or hear curses from our mouths (except for the occasional slip, wink, wink), but that doesn’t mean people who choose to do differently are bad, or more importantly, that we are morally better.
We have explained these things, but still, I suppose since she doesn’t hear them from home, it makes her uncomfortable. And she let that be known. And some kids bullied her for it. And… it hurt my momma heart for her. Sigh.
I remember being the different kid in school. The weirdo, the outcast, the subject of much bullying. I never wanted that for my babies. I didn’t want them to experience being the outcast, at a young and emotional age, when self worth was still emerging, but more than that I didn’t want them to feel pressured to try and fit in with the “cool kids.” I had experienced that rollercoaster growing up too. So, it’s like, I was proud of her for being different, and for sticking to her principles, but it also hurt me that she had to experience the ridicule of it.
“It makes me not want to talk to anybody outside of my family,” she had confessed during our conversation.
I could understand that. There were mean people in this world. As a homeschooled kid, only ever being around cousins, church friends, or in Christian Co-op classes, she had not really had to face this yet. We talked a long time about the mean people out there, why they’re mean, and how we love them anyway. We talked about how despite the mean people, you still sought the kind ones, because they were out there too, and friendships of that caliber were worth digging for. I think she got it.
In a way, it was really good for her to experience life outside our safe bubble, something I knew she needed. Yet still, my mommy heart worried. As we laid in bed later that night, saying our prayers together, it struck me…
God was listening!
I mean, of course He was listening. I knew that! But the events of the day reminded me on a deeper level of His hand in the life of my children. Every single day I prayed for my babies. I prayed for God to protect them and keep them healthy, of course, but I also prayed for their relationship with Him. Every night we prayed together that they would hear God’s voice and feel His presence. That they would know they’re never alone. As Chloe grew older I prayed the Lord would guide her, give her wisdom and discernment for His will. I prayed for God to give me and my husband those things as we attempt to parent well.
God was listening. He was answering our prayers, and His Holy Spirit led her each day.
Y’all, this gave me great comfort. I guess my heart will still worry for her feelings, and my mind will still become anxious over how she will transverse this world with all its many different people, but I will also have peace knowing we are not alone in parenting our daughters. Even throughout the emotional tween years, and later the crazy teen years (I’ll probably need to re-read this post at that point). And with His Shalom Peace I can survive this parenting journey.
It’s hard not to worry for your children as a Christian parent. You know that their still-developing, immature mind cannot grasp the truth of the spiritual matters that give you peace. They’re not there yet. But then I’m reminded that God is still present, walking them through their budding relationship with Him. I think of John the Baptist, leaping with the joy of the Holy Spirit, while still in His mother’s womb, and I understand that same Spirit is with my babies too. Today, I’ll take it. And I’ll take it tomorrow. I’ll take all the help I can get as I learn more how to parent each and every day.