Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Balance of Freedom

Life’s a little different for us these days, my husband and I have realized. Changes are happening faster than we’d like.

Making plans with friends is in some ways much easier—no babysitter needed. (Can I get a Hallelujah?!)

But in some ways, getting together with other couples is much, much harder. Sometimes our kids need us on the weekends. And sometimes our weeknights feel so busy that we just need to be home on Friday night.

Life with teenagers is a fine balance between being available and not, being accessible and letting them figure it out, being around and living our own lives. We’re still primarily parents . . . with a little more freedom.

Freedom to go out with friends. Freedom to work. Freedom to take off for the weekend occasionally.

And yet, we’re still primarily parents.

I feel that tug. I feel the pull toward freedom. And yet, responsibility beckons. I’m still needed here. I’m still Mom to three independent, yes, but needy still, teenagers.

One of the wonderful pleasures of having daughters is helping them maneuver the highs and lows of womanhood. And don’t we know that the highs are pretty high and the lows are pretty low? It’s a rollercoaster, no matter how you look at it.

Recently I found myself with the absolute pleasure of having a few hours alone with Kate. She was home on Fall Break, and neither of us wanted to do the work we needed to be doing, so we decided to go shopping. (Another of the great benefits of having daughters!)

On our way to the mall, we talked of the future, of what it’s like to be a woman—an intelligent woman with a bit of ambition. Some of Kate’s friends don’t get it. Why would she even consider law school? What if she met someone and wanted to get married? What if she wanted to have kids? These questions bothered my daughter, just as they bothered me many years ago when I was in graduate school.

Who says you can’t be a mother AND a lawyer? Who says she has to choose? Besides, she’s still young and still exploring her options.

But she has options, and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.

We talked about vocation and priorities, and I hope I drove home a point or two from my own experience. No matter what you choose—to work or to stay home with your family—you family is your first priority. It has to be.

I pointed out that even her dad has made that choice. Even though he has a demanding career, and even though he has to be away from us early in the morning and sometimes late at night, those of us who live within these four walls know without a doubt that we are his first priority.

God gives us choices. God gives us abilities. God gives us these good, good lives to live. And yet, within the freedom of these lives, we have to choose to honor Him by making our family our first priority.

It’s a balancing act, and sometimes we fall off the tightrope. I know I have. I know I’ve missed a concert or two and later wished I had not made the choices I had made. But we get back on the rope and we try again.






  1. I hear you on this one.

    It IS such a relief not to have to find a babysitter for every little thing. Yet, in some ways, teenagers need us at home as much as preschoolers. They need a steady hand and wise guidance. They need home to be a haven from their demanding lives outside our walls.

    I applaud you for what you're teaching your daughters. So many options are available for young women now--and that's a good thing. But "having it all" is a myth, isn't it? We all make choices. I'm proud of you for not narrowing her choices for her but for teaching her that families must come first (for both moms and dads!).

  2. Thank you, Richella. You said it so much better than I did--we can't have it all. Anyone who tells you as much is lying.

  3. You are a lovely mother, Shelly. I love reading your thoughts on this important matter.

    My mom always said, "You are never done being a mom." I, for one, am glad.