I'll never forget the moment I became invisible.
I collected my daughter from school where her team had returned from an out-of-town ballgame. On the drive home, my young athlete announced she was starving and could we please get some food.
Weary beyond measure, I agreed to a super-quick stop so my teen wouldn't starve to death. As the golden arches came into view, I glanced at my attire. Because of the late hour, I had thrown on sweats and flip-flops, and my hair was a disaster. Not to mention a complete lack of makeup.
"Honey, we'll have to use the drive-through. I'm not dressed to go inside."
My darling daughter turned toward me and squinted in confusion. "Um, what does it matter what you're wearing?"
Wait, what? Who snatched my sweet tender-hearted little girl and replaced her with this teenager?
At some point in the journey of motherhood, I had slipped from mama-hung-the-moon to what-does-it-matter. The moment was rather, um, unsettling.
To be honest, my wanna-be-a-cool-mom ego took a hit. I mean, it's not like I was wearing socks with my flops or had curlers in my hair. That would be ridiculous.
Oblivious to my shocked state, my young teen inhaled her cheeseburger combo while filling me in on the game and her school day. After a five-minute run-on sentence, she plopped back, closed her eyes, and announced her exhaustion.
Well, OK then.
This was the beginning of myriad moments of adjustment—realizing my children's eyes weren't always focused on me. The swirl of friends, school, sports, trends, pop culture and so on are filled their ever-expanding worlds. Mom might be around, but she didn't always seem relevant.
Three things stand out as vital in this ever-changing season of parenthood:
- Our children need breathing room—the opportunity to adjust to their life-changes—without constant lectures from a hypercritical parent.
We can insist on respect while not taking every comment personally. Instead of wearing my heart on my sleeve, I could have responded with humor to my clueless daughter. "Excuse me, Ms. Priss. I want to look as pretty as you do when I dine at fine establishments." Gentle reminders tend to carry more power than angry rebukes.
- Our worth and value as parents is rooted in our relationship with Christ, not in the eyes of our teens.
There will be times when our children look right through us to other "more exciting" people and activities. But if we are grounded in the person of Jesus Christ, we will recognize these temporary pulls for what they are and will seek God's strength to remain a faithful, steady presence in our teen's life.
- We all long to be valued as unique individuals.
On that late night with my daughter, our hearts searched for the same thing—recognition and validation. My teen's sense of value centered around the bubble of her tiny world.
My sense of worth took a hit because I was focused on my daughter's approval over my Lord's. Never a good thing.
In our Father's eyes, no one is invisible.
"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear. You are more valuable than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7).
We have immeasurable worth and value because we are created in God's image—with plans, purpose and possibilities.
Exciting news for teens and parents alike—no matter how we're dressed!
Leigh Ann Thomas is the author of Ribbons, Lace and Moments of Grace—Inspiration for the Mother of the Bride (SonRise Devotionals). A columnist for AlmostAnAuthor.com, she has also written for The Write Conversation, Southern Writers Suite T and Power for Living. Her short stories are included in three editions of Southern Writers Best Short Stories (2015-2017). You can find Leigh Ann on her front porch daydreaming story plots or blogging at leighathomas.com.
This article first appeared at just18summers.com.