The concept of “maternal instincts” has long been written about, debated and, at least from a mother’s point of view, naturally understood. Whether human or animal, almost every mother instinctively loves and protects her child. Starting at birth, a mother cat will not only nurture her kittens, but she will protect and literally draw them, with her paws, into her chest when she’s unsure of a situation or person. If a mother cat senses a threat, she will move her kittens to another location and sometimes even hide them in blankets, closets, or try to hide them outside.
I feel much like that mother cat. I want to wrap my 17-year-old in my arms, hold him close, and protect him from the world – even from himself. I am fighting the urge to whisk him away to a “safe place”, wherever that might be. He is an unhappy young man, angry at life (and thus often at his family as well), and seems to be intent on self destruction. His choices are steering him toward danger, loneliness, and potentially a devastating future. But, while maternal instincts can teach us how to love, how to be responsive and protective, it doesn't provide a blueprint for how to handle the challenges that come when raising a child…particularly a wayward one.
My beautiful boy is sleeping in his room right now, having been out all night and not answering me about where he was. In the middle of the night, I drove to find him but didn’t know where to look. I came home and listened for the door throughout the night and checked my phone about every half hour, waiting to hear from him. I felt all the rational and irrational fears one feels when someone they love is “missing”. I see my son slipping away, and I feel powerless.
I feel like the woman in front of the wise king in 1st Kings 3, fighting against another for the life of my child. What or whom I’m fighting against I don’t know, but I wish the king would give me my whole baby back.
I pray for my son from Proverbs 23…”Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice! My son, give Me your heart and let your eyes keep to My ways…”
I want to rejoice in my son; I want my husband to delight in him. But I can’t make that happen. My motherly heart grieves for this child. I ache all over…inside and out. I go from anger, to fear, to hopelessness, to pain. I do not understand what my son is going through. I do not understand my husband’s reaction to him. Sometimes I don’t understand my own responses. All I know is that right now I want to protect him. I want my whole baby back. My little blond-haired, green-eyed, full of life and energy boy. Oh, he’s not so little any more. He towers over me now. But he is still my Cody. He is still my son.
I know that when I can’t, God has this child in his arms. He will not forget him. "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” says the Lord. (Isaiah 49:15)
Oh my son, I will not forget you, but I place you in the arms of Jesus…He is the blanket, the closet, and the loving arms that will keep you close.