I see metaphors everywhere. Kinda like the movie The 6th sense, but instead of seeing dead people, I see metaphors.
The latest one I’ve been pondering on came from the water park. My kids and I were going to ride one more slide before calling it a day. We walked over to grab a tube, my feet burning on the hot concrete, and my daughter said, “Can we each get our own this time?” “Sure!” I said, happy to go alone and just carry a single tube up the endless stairs.
As we walked to the slide, I watched my kids run ahead of me, each carrying their own tube. On the way up I passed a kid maybe 13 years old hauling a two-man raft for his little sister. “Do you need any help?” I asked, drawing closer, because I actually had an extra hand… “No thank you. I’m fine.” He answered.
I never thought of motherhood like carrying tubes at a water park, but there are some parallels.
Birth through 2 years is full of feedings, diaper changes, naps and hold me mommy. As moms, we carry the tube. All day. And we appreciate it when other people ask to help.
Then around year 3, the power struggle begins as toddlers seek to display independence. It becomes a 2-man tube that we carry together. This is tricky because sometimes our child wants to carry it by themselves!
So it’s a back and forth… I carry it….they try to carry it…OH mommy, will you help me…tug of war. All the way up the hot concrete to the top of the water slide.
But then around ages 8-18 something happens. They really start to grow up. And now they can ride the water slide alone and carry their own tube to do it. They can pair with a friend and find my table when they finish. It’s a beautiful thing, but also comes with mixed emotions.
My oldest turns 15 this summer, and as I look back at the different stages of mothering, I want to encourage you with these words, whichever stage you’re in:
If you’re in the young, young years and your days are full of carrying the tube, know this season is hard, you aren’t crazy, and it won’t last forever. I know every silver haired lady tells you that at the grocery store, and I also know your days feel forever long as you nod at her and smile.
But just tuck a note in the back of your mind, it won’t be like this forever. Right now is such a special and crucial stage for your child and you will never regret spending all the time you can with your little one. Even though they won’t remember all the times you carried their tube – you will. And when they grow up you will hang on to those memories!
For mommas in the difficult tug of war stage, laugh as much as you can. Your little 4-year-old thinks she is so big and strong, probably because you have encouraged her so much during the little years. It is important to let them carry their tube at times, even though it takes longer. It’s how they learn.
Tubes, like life are big, bulky and awkward. It takes balance, confidence and strength to carry them. Life is a series of letting them feel the weight and awkwardness of it, taking it back from them when it’s too hard and doing the whole process over and over again countless times through out the day. But know, what you’re doing is important and it too won’t last forever.
Now for moms with older kids. Kids who carry their own tube and really just need us for transportation. Our role as mom in this stage really changes. Our kids don’t need help carrying the tube anymore. Now, they need us to cheer them on as they choose which slide to ride.
Our role turns into coach, asking them questions, helping them process and gather information to make intelligent decisions. But I believe the key here is to not take the tube from them!
They have earned the privilege to carry their own tube and we will damage our relationship with them if we take it from them. With this increased privilege comes great responsibility.
They may not pick a slide we would choose to go down. But now, our job is to meet them at the bottom and see how it went. Giving them the freedom to make choices shows we trust them. This may be the hardest stage of all because we can’t control the outcome anymore.
Whatever stage you’re at, know you can do this. Mothering is hard. But of all the people God could’ve picked to be your child’s mom, He picked you. Don’t give up. You are your child’s biggest hero.