Want to empower your teenager to become a hero? Lean in real close and I’ll share what I just discovered…
It doesn’t involve boot camp or promises of cash or fame.
No, no. The secret is this.
We simply need to fall apart.
Because what do Moms usually do when a crisis happens?
We figure it out. We call the tow truck or change the tire ourselves. Moms take the day off or juggle all the things to meet all the needs. We Buckle Down or Power Up. We Mom it.
And while that usually works and is often the only option, there may be times when we simply can’t.
We just can’t.
Friday was that day for me.
A stomach flu has ravaged our household this week beginning with Boy 2, then Boy 4, then Boy 3 and over to Boy 1 (twice – what?). This bug is unlike anything we have experienced during our seventeen years of familydom.
A tummy bug sounds so friendly, doesn’t it? But this, my friends, was pure evil. A Wretched Intenstinal Viper.
Being the Mom, I dove into action as each victim fell. With cold cloths and barf bowls and towel-covered pillows, I set the boys up beside me for multiple all-nighters. They know I will keep them company, rub their back and pray fervently as long as I can catch a few winks between episodes. Need a horizontal night nurse? I’m your gal.
My husband, who is amazing at supporting all of us through sickness, had to stay quarantined. He was leading a church service in a few days and could not possibly afford to catch this Beastly Bug.
Nine days after patient zero, this Mama finally succumbed to the flu, and things got interesting.
I normally don’t slow down with a bit of vomiting. Literally. Once, with morning sickness, I even managed to puke into my lunchbag while still driving down the highway to teach.
But this time was relentless. My stomach didn’t get the memo that it was on EMPTY and it kept Pretend Barfin’ for hours on end.
My only comfort was sprawling in a lukewarm bath, clutching a barf bowl. With two doors between me and my family, I braced for a long night of ab workouts, in solitude.
Our teens will become heroes when we least expect it
Shortly after one horrendous episode, I peered through squinty eyes at someone walking towards me. Without flinching, our eldest bravely marched through polluted air, and handed me a gingerale.
“Oh bud. Save yourself. Please sleep in the basement so you don’t have to hear this all night.”
But like any true soldier he vowed to stand his post, in case I needed anything. He didn’t even plug his nose.
“I’ve got you, Mom.”
Just after midnight he showed up again, silently passing me a cool cloth for my forehead.
And hours later, he woke himself up to make sure I hadn’t drowned in my Semi-conscious Floaty Barfy State.
The words, “I’ve got you, Mom” echoed off the white porcelain.
For the next two days, I couldn’t even get out of bed. My big boys kept showing up heroically with these random lines:
- I got the fizz out of your drink
- Do you need an eyeball massage?
- I brought you the Strangely Satisfying Ice Pack
They offered neck rubs and company, but mostly gave me space to recover.
The seven-year-old, who has clearly not completed his knighthood training would pop in and ask if he could pretty please go to Walmart right now to buy a tiny Lego set.
I found myself leaning on Boy 3 quite a bit because just seeing his sparkly face made me feel better. Eventually he teased, “Mom, you’re getting a bit wishlisty” and walked away.
Apparently even heroes have their limits.
In my darkest time of need, my warriors rose to the occasion. Because that’s what heroes do.
And I didn’t even care that they spent too much time on screens and ate sketchy combinations of food. Because survival.
One battle allows everyone to do what they’ve been trained to do. To prove the lessons are sticking. To show they have been watching us this whole time. But if we never let ourselves fall apart, our kids won’t have the chance to shine.
What if your heroes haven’t shown up quite yet?
Maybe you are covered in split pea spit up and can’t even picture your little one caring for you one day. Just wait.
Perhaps you would settle for a hero who would just pick up his underwear already. Just wait.
Or maybe you often take the brunt of your teenager’s stressful days. Just wait.
On our hardest days we must remember:
We never know when our heroes will appear. What lesson will spark their transformation. What will move them to selfless action.
But we can not lose hope.
Keep loving. They are inhaling your empathy. Your kindness will be reflected back in a moment of crisis, or through an unexpected gesture.
And you will be undone.
Boy 4 showed signs of feeling unwell again tonight, and my stomach knotted up. I couldn’t face another night duty quite yet. An older brother called him over.
“Dude. If you need help in the night don’t wake up Mom, okay? Come get me instead, even if you have to jump on me.”
I am undone.
Galations 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
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