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Homeschooling: All Things

The Race

I didn’t have to go. He had already caught a ride with friends early in the morning while we slept. But I didn’t want my first-born child to think his mother never came to anything because she had so many little ones to tow along with her. So I loaded the car with his five younger siblings, lots of food and movies to keep the peace in our SUV and we drove for an hour and a half to see my 13-year-old son cross the finish line in his first-ever mountain bike race.

We left plenty early and made good time through the windy mountain villages. We were all excited to hold our homemade sign and cheer as he finished the race.

As I drove through the morning, my eyes kept tuning into the clock. Knowing what time his race would begin. I prayed for him. Frequently. For nerves and for safety. For good placement and even a win, if that’s what the Lord wanted for him. Whatever the Lord wanted to accomplish that day, I prayed He would do it.

But it was not meant to be the answer we’d hoped for. As we maneuvered the parking lot, we saw him walking all alone with his bike, face to the ground. A mother knows the look of despair and this was it. He didn’t want to talk, but I ran after him to find out what had happened. A flat tire. No patch kit. No one to help. The race was over for him. My heart broke for my boy and his loss.

He summoned all of his will to hold his emotions in. There were no tears and no curses. At least not on the outside. I wanted to pick him up the way a mother does a hurt child and fix the pain. But a 13-year-old son doesn’t take to that too well. A mother never stops being ready to give it though.

As the other friends gathered round after the race, they shared their stories. They questioned the outcome for boy, and how if only he’d had a CO2 cartridge, he could’ve aired his tire quickly and continued. But then talk shifted to their own stories, their own race. My son stood and listened. I wanted to focus on the terrible thing that had befallen my rider, to lament the tragic flat tire, but it had run its course. I asked if he wanted to come home with me; he declined. He told me I could go ahead and go now.

I’d driven over an hour that day to see my son grow up, right before my eyes on a Saturday morning in the mountains. At first, I thought the Lord had put me there to bring comfort and encouragement to my big guy. But as reflected for days on that morning, I came to the realization that it really was for me to see him growing up and becoming independent. Not needing or even wanting mom to fix his problem or ease his pain. Dealing with it in his own way and then moving on.

I don’t think he needed me there. But I do think the Lord needed to put me there to show me the son I now know. I needed to realize that part of letting go as a mother is giving up on the outcome and joining with the Lord on the process. He didn’t grow in an instant, but I did. I grew in the knowledge that I am now a parent of a teenager, a young man in the making. Sure, this race was lost, but there will be others.

I went on my way that morning with my car full of kids, but with my heart sad and prayerful for my oldest son. I stopped into a sports store to surprise him with a bike kit filled with everything he’d need for the next time things went flat or broke. I wanted him to be prepared with all the tools he’d need for the next time a ride went wrong. But most of all I just wanted him to know that whatever happens next time, he wouldn’t have to quit the race, he could fix it and continue to the finish line.

And isn’t that really the main goal of parenting? To give our children the right tools and introduce them to the One who fixes things. Not always the way they plan, but ultimately the best way. And to teach them to keep their eyes on the ultimate finish line with a goal to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That’s the sign I want to see held up for each of my children when they reach the end of the race. And I will be here—or there–to cheer them on until that day.

By: Melissa Morgner

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