parenting helps Jami Amerine adult babies
Leading Them to Jesus, Parenting

How to Mother Adult Babies Better

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How to Mother Adult Babies Better

One never stops being a mother, even when she has adult babies. I am writing this at 30,000 feet. My oldest daughter, Maggie and I are flying home from a visit with my youngest biological son, Luke aka the Hippie Baby. 

He lives and works at an Ashram. He teaches Ayurvedic classes, yoga, and… other stuff.  Look, I love Jesus. I raised my first batch of children as Christians. They know what I believe. And while this will meet with some “tsk tsks,” one thing the Eastern believers have right is Karma. Criticize my folly, my life, my parenting, and prepare to find your child barefoot in the mountains chanting “Shanti, Shanti, Shanti…” 

You’ve been warned. 

Luke was my hardest child. From the moment his lungs hollered his arrival, he struggled. Born with a broken clavicle and a miscarried twin, he sought something, anything for comfort. For years we grieved that which we could not give our boy, peace.

He has found it. 

I would be lying if I did not struggle on this trip. In my bones, I believe Jesus. In my heart, I know I don’t get to decide what my adult babies will believe. And, all I have asked of them now, is to respect my beliefs and I will respect theirs. 

And I do. I respect that Luke is convicted, motivated, passionate, and riddled with peace. I could have met with him for 72 hours and spent his birthday weekend arguing all that I feel he is missing. But, honestly, he didn’t appear to be missing a single thing. 

Which, was a personal struggle for me, as I have been struggling in my faith. We are in a hard season, I question why God has not answered me.

Alas, I cannot quit the God of my heart. I like Him too much. 

I attended a temple service at the Ashram. My mind was buzzing with altars to foreign gods and songs that meant nothing to me… and everything to my son. Later at lunch, my daughter commented, “Luke, do you think one of the draws to this practice is the similarities between this and Catholicism?” 

My four “originals” were raised under a strict catholic regime. One we abandoned after my mother-in-law passed and I fell into the arms of Grace. And Luke answered, “absolutely.” 

Which I could have interpreted as “look mom you shoved pomp and circumstance, law and ritual so fiercely down my throat… I might be a Buddhist.”

Winning. 

But I didn’t, I didn’t argue and I didn’t panic. I don’t believe I failed my children in conveying one Truth. My failure was believing I could dictate who they would become and what they would believe. 

And, I am glad I failed at that. 

No, really. 

I didn’t give birth to robots. Nor, did I open my home to orphaned robots. These are humans. And before them is a road, I cannot control. 

So in every meditation session where I was not supposed to think, I was instead thinking about not thinking about thinking. I had to chant, “I release these babies to your perfect plan. I am a daughter. These children are my brothers and sisters in Christ…” 

I prayed I would see my mistakes, my misunderstandings. And I napped and did yoga, napped some more and prayed some more. And then, the last night of our visit we drove from the Ashram to a pizza joint in a small town in the canyon. 

We toasted Luke’s birthday, peace and joy, and ate gourmet pizza and marinated olives.

And that is when the stories began. 

Maggie and Luke recounted memory after memory from their youth. If I had a single motherly claim to fame, it is my adult babies’  love for each other. Truly, they are all best friends. But I cannot give you that formula. They just love each other. 

Some of the stories were exaggerated. The adult babies claim my husband, Justin and I forced them to dust and mop every Saturday. I would bet my life this is inaccurate. They laughed about the trouble they got into and out of. And they told old stories of ER visits, daily mass, laughter, loss, and love. 

And then, Luke said something that left Maggie and me speechless, a rare feat. He said, “I will always remember how much mom loved planes.” 

I queried, “AIRPLANES?!?!?” 

And he said, “Yes! I remember you loved airplanes. And I remember you were always pointing them out to us, everywhere we went.”

As I mentioned, I am composing this mid-flight. I am hopped up on Xanax because I cannot even park my car at an airport without being sedated. 

I hate to fly. And I have no interest in planes. Like, none. 

And yet, Luke recounted stories from his past with a mother obsessed with sky travel. Maggie lobbied, “What is wrong with you??? Mom hates to fly?!?!” 

Luke volleyed, “No? She doesn’t?!? She loves to fly and she was always showing us planes and could name the type!” 

Hmmm. Okay, we lived close to an air force base. I could decipher a C-130 and a B-1B. I guess, maybe if one was landing I would mention this? But I have no memory of EVER DOING THIS. 

This conversation turned into more obscure revelations about their childhood, ones I cannot authenticate. With tears rolling down our laugh-fatigued cheeks, Luke told stories from his perspective about being raised by a mother as legendary as Amelia Earheart.

Turbulence, sends me reeling.  Take-offs are my torment. Landings are my nemesis.  And, I have been known to cry in many an airport bathroom stall, bar, duty-free shop, and shoeshine stand.  

And now, at a cruising altitude, I cannot process and don’t want to, I am flooded with life on the outside.  The outside of self that is. Most likely, this post will be read by a few who will pity my situation, and most definitely, I will get an ugly email denouncing my casual take on a grown child rejecting truth.  Although, before you tell me off, I should mention, you don’t know my son’s heart. You don’t know what he knows, what he will know, or where this journey will take him.  

You are welcome to tell someone else off, they might be more receptive than I.  

All that said, I have a defining moment in my childhood, and it does involve planes, my hatred of them.  I was 9 when my family had moved from Farmington, New Mexico to Hobbs, New Mexico. The move was hard on me.  I had a very good friend in Farmington, she lived right next door to me and we were inseparable. When we moved we brought our two cars down and my dad made arrangements for me and him to fly back to Farmington to see my best friend for a couple of days and retrieve his motorcycle.  

He bought us two plane tickets.  The airport in Hobbs was tiny, which meant a tiny plane and a connecting flight in Albuquerque to another tiny plane bound for Farmington.  The thirty-minute flight to Albuquerque just nearly killed me. I was green. It was a nightmare and I threw up the entire flight. Upon landing my dad carried me to a rental car counter and rented a car, losing the money on the plane tickets.  I was too weak to thank him.  

We headed out of the airport on a 5-hour drive to Farmington.  

I was quiet most of the ride, which as I may have mentioned was entirely out of character.  And, I remember thinking my dad was probably quite irritated with me. When I started to get some color back my dad stopped at Schlotzsky’s, our favorite sandwich shop.  We ate and talked about my new school and how excited I was to see my friend. When it was time to go I went to the restroom. When I came back, my dad was gone.

I sat at the table looking around, wholly convinced, he had abandoned me.  It would make sense. He could probably make it back to the airport, fly to Farmington and get his motorcycle and not have to mess with a child that was prone to all forms of travel sickness.  

I tried not to cry.

 And I contemplated phone numbers of relatives who might save me. I couldn’t think of a single one, a phone number that is.  Reflecting, I remember feeling complacent panic. Truly, who could blame someone, like my dad, wholly adventurous and fun-loving, having his fill of a vomitous brat who debunked his efforts for a fun-filled week-long caper? 

I stared out the window of the sandwich shop.  Which way was north? Nine is too young to hitchhike, right? 

And then, from around the side of the building came my dad.  The men’s restroom in Schlotzsky’s was out of order and he had gone into the convenience store next door so we could get on the road.  

The rest of the trip was a blast.  The two-day motorcycle ride back to Hobbs is one of my most favorite childhood memories.  But I always remember, for a moment, I believed my daddy could have his fill of me.  

Curious, my dad would do anything for me.  And yet, I doubted him, fiercely.  

Which brings me to all the perceptions and parenting myths that I have held tightly, unable to see things from the other side.  And with children aged 5 to 24, I know there are things I can teach them, stories I will read to them, and they might still not know everything about me.  They might doubt me, and they sure might misunderstand everything that makes me tick.

And as I visited with my adult babies in an Ashram in Colorado, so many thoughts assaulted me. 

The first being, I wasn’t as wise at 20 and 24 as Maggie and Luke are. They are able to have discussions, disagree, and debate, and they don’t feel threatened by the other’s views.

The second was this, neither of them wholly agree with my beliefs or each others’.  And why would they? Just because they were raised in the same house with the same parents and the same beliefs, their lives have dealt them varied successes and hardships.  I feel confident I equipped them with some decent life skills, but I don’t get to control when or where they will implement them.   

Furthermore, when I was 20 I was newly married and a brand new Catholic.  When I was 24 I had 2 babies and was teaching Freshman seminar at Methodist University. 

It would be another 22 years before I could confidently say, “I love Jesus. And I don’t love Him out of habit or fear, I love Him because I know Him.  Grace is everything.”  

The point?  Well, give me a break, my best writing is done somewhere below sea level.  The point is simply this, my kids are wholly a part of me… and wholly apart from me.  I did my best, and I did my worst. I would never leave them at a sandwich shop and I doubt I will ever enjoy air travel.  But their perceptions, their fears, their doubts, their seeking, finding, coming and going, are covered by my prayers. The God of my heart knows their names and He will not leave them or forsake them.  

This is the Parent we can trust. 

Without a word, without an ounce of irritation, He methodically cares for us and our children.  He knows when we can’t face the plane ride and it is time to rent a car. And while it seems He might have stepped out of sight, He will never abandon us or them.  

I know, I know the worries of seeing our adult babies veer off from what we know to be the only answer and our whole truth.  But I also know, this is just the beginning. When they were three, I taught them about please and thank yous. They knew about stranger danger and their ABC’s.  They remember that stuff. I am just positive all of my kids, except Luke, know my distaste for air travel, you can’t make me go to an air show, don’t try. And I fully believe, they will find the truth and they will be set free.  

They will continue to love well.  And they will always be loved.  

What I love about my adult babies is that they are seekers and thinkers.  They are individuals with passions and convictions, some I don’t share and some I wholly embrace, and learn from.  I am not sure who was supposed to tell young mothers about the struggle of watching adult babies find their own footing, but I will say, I am enjoying watching them blossom.  

And while this is not necessarily an advice blog, I would like to offer this, don’t hold so tightly to what you know, you aren’t willing to listen to what they are learning.  I try and remember what it feels like to have encountered fresh wisdom only to be treated like a fool. And I think it serves our relationships with our adult babies to know, just like when they were learning to walk, they will stumble.  Falling down means getting back up. If not for the trial, there would never be triumph.  

And the best piece of advice ever? 

There is nothing worse than a Pharisee. The only people Jesus didn’t want to hang out with were the people who judged harshly and falsely professed their wisdom and piety.  I wholly believe that the best I can do for my adult babies is to listen to them. To respect their journey and really hear what they have to say.   

The landing gear is going down, no one tell Luke, this is the part where I cower into a ball and sob quietly… I wouldn’t him to question what he knows to be true.  

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Love, Jami

Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Oh my!  Have you seen all the great stuff in my Etsy shop!  Check it out here!

 

 

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11 Comments

  1. Oh so good!

    I never thought I’d be the mom who had a child completely mixed up about Jesus! Hardest part of parenting. Thank you for the great advice…

    All I can do is pray, love and trust that God knows exactly what each of my grown children need. I’m blessed to be their mom!

  2. Oh how beautifully you spoke my heart! My three were raised with Jesus being the center of our days, the first name I called out praying for each hurt and nightmare. Now as adults, they are questioning and seeking their own answers. I have two grandchildren that I would love to take to church but it is not yet time to ask. There will be a time. Now my prayer is that the Lord would graciously show them His faithfulness in my life. I am not intimidated by their questions, because the God of the universe can handle them. They know my heart and I no longer need to teach them. I admire and respect the amazing, brilliant adults that they are. I am appalled by parents that don’t accept their children as adults and still continue to parent a child instead of parenting the adult. I’m still the parent, but I know I shouldn’t parent a ten year old the same as a two year old, the same as a 25 year old. Also, it’s good to hear that I’m not the only one baffled by the memories they have that are very different from my version.

  3. I have been known to be pharisaical to my children when they were growing up, and at times I probably still seem that way to them. Now they are parents and going through some of the same struggles with their own babies who are in the process of growing up. There are things about me they don’t know or ever will know; just as there are things about them I will never know. I do know this: I love them more than the air that I breathe and still He loves them more. I have made my peace with my Lord, releasing them and they are in His Hands and because of that I can trust Him to always have them under His Wing. So- in other words I’m right there with you praying that Proverbs verse! I have to trust that the Maker of Worlds, the One Who spoke the stars and moon and sun into existence, knows more about what they need than I do and He knows the Plans He has for them. love your words today!

  4. Just what I needed as I find myself often asking why my daughter doesn’t believe God is real, why after I raised her completely opposite of this and my biggest why of all, Why won’t God answer my prayer for her to see the truth. I needed this as a reminder to keep praying

  5. Sandra Mertz says:

    Love this post Jami. I am just entering this phase of parenting with my 19 year old son. It is hard to sit back and watch. He has been in Jesus loving fellowships since he was born, he professed faith and was baptized, yet I feel like he has Jesus in his head and not his heart. It is hard to accept that I can not make this transition to his heart happen. I have to let Jesus, in His timing, bring my son into a true relationship with him. In the meantime I will pray, shed a few tears, and trust that God loves my boy more than I ever could and will finish the work he began in him.

  6. Sandra says:

    Love this post Jami. I am just entering this phase of parenting with my 19 year old son. It is hard to sit back and watch. He has been in Jesus loving fellowships since he was born, he professed faith and was baptized, yet I feel like he has Jesus in his head and not his heart. It is hard to accept that I can not make this transition to his heart happen. I have to let Jesus, in His timing, bring my son into a true relationship with him. In the meantime I will pray, shed a few tears, and trust that God loves my boy more than I ever could and will finish the work he began in him.

  7. What a great post! My husband and I are in such a time of transition, and it’s requiring more faith than I feel I have right now. Our five adult children are wanting to live their own lives, and raise their children…and it’s difficult to watch at times! Because it’s not the way I would have done it…it’s not the way I DID do it. Two of our girls have decided divorce and other relationships, as well as a questioning of their faith is what is needed in their lives at this time. Coupled with my husband’s potential Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis…I’m struggling. Thank you for some smiles, and the knowledge that I’m not the only crazy mom out there. And that this too shall pass…maybe like a kidney stone, but it will pass. 😉

    1. Oh friend, praying for heavy things and I will add your husband to my prayer journal. Jesus be all over you. Love, J

  8. This was excellent. Meet them where they are at, just like Jesus so sweetly does with us. Thank you for sharing, and I’m glad you made it safely back home!

  9. Praying Pro 22:6 for Luke. Thank you so much for being brave and authentic in sharing your life with us. It means a lot. laurensparks.net

  10. […] and stews.  While the Hippie baby actually does the majority of cooking at the ashram where he lives and teaches.  Believe it or not, he was able to make my Mormon Funeral Potatoes… […]

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