Published September 2014: The Messenger – Faith: A Fresh Take
Worries From Home
Being away from home is never easy as a single mom. Before I leave for a work trip, I have to coordinate care for my children, including rides to practices and social activities, while also arranging for someone to keep an eye on my home and my high-maintenance dog.
As much as I should be focused on work while traveling, the reality is that as a parent, your mind is always at home regardless of where you are. With two teenagers, my initial worry is that they will try and railroad their caretakers into letting them slide by the rules or neglect their own responsibilities while I’m gone. I also feel a tremendous amount of guilt leaving them home with family when I’m away.
My recent trip to a convention unfortunately proved my worries right and anything that could go wrong, did go wrong, including an air conditioning unit that went on the fritz while I was more than six hours away.
I couldn’t wait to get home to “fix” all that went wrong and whip my household back into shape. What I realized, though, is that I can’t fix it all and I can’t prevent my children from making mistakes. Our mistakes should serve as learning opportunities. As a parent, I need to step back more often and let them make mistakes so they experience the consequences and learn how to “fix” life as it progresses.
But, it is very hard to watch someone sink rather than swim. As a teacher in the classroom, my role is to mentor and guide my students while they make mistakes and learn from them. I embrace this process and love to see them learn how to think critically, work through problems or issues with writing as well as learn hard lessons about time management, deadlines and responsibilities that shape them into better students and citizens as a whole.
Trying to implement the process of mentoring at home proves to be a much more difficult task. It’s difficult to anticipate the mistakes my children will make without wanting to jump in and “fix” them right away.
I find myself making my son’s lunch because I know he dislikes the cafeteria food at school and I worry he won’t eat lunch at all. However, I know deep down that a few days of skipping lunch will teach him a valuable lesson.
As the mother of a newly-driving 16-year old, I know that my daughter wants to pick up all of her friends for school, drive around town with her newfound freedom and use up every ounce of gasoline in her tank. Do I teach her a lesson by refusing to fill up the tank or do I “fix” it by ensuring she can make it to school with a full tank each week?
Even though I have been a parent for 16 years, I’m still learning how to step back, trust in my children and put their mistakes (and mine) in God’s hands. So, as I was worrying in a hotel room on this recent trip, I decided to calm my nerves and trust in my faith by placing every single worry and a list of every problem I wanted to fix in that handy Bible found in the nightstand of the room I was occupying. My worry didn’t disappear, but it was calming to know that a much higher power was watching over those problems so I could sleep, concentrate on my responsibilities on the road and safely make it back home.
In a rush to leave, I realized when I got home that I never removed that list. Hopefully, the next occupant of the room will make good use of that Bible and even pray for me and those problems I still need to fix when reading my poorly-sketched worries.
— Shannon Philpott