Growing Up

By Nikki Johnson

I’m not ready. Nope. I’m not. Ugh. Ok, so my son received four emails over the weekend from colleges expressing their interest in him.  My phone rang and all I heard was “MOM!!!!!”  I thought something terribly drastic happened in the 10 minutes that passed, since I left my house.  Bless his heart.  He was so excited. He was talking so fast I had to ask him twice what happened.  He read each email to me. They were form letters that I’m sure are sent to all students who bubble in the space on those standardized tests to indicate they are interested in attending an institution of higher learning.  While I was excited that he was excited, I became keenly aware that my baby is not my baby anymore.

I am a single parent who actually enjoys the parenting process.  And while I understand that parenting never stops, it does change and transition in dimensions.  My son and I are close but he is by no means a “mama’s boy”.  We have different interests and are not joined at the hip.  The idea of him going away for school is not the scariest part for me.  The scariest part is that he is growing up and maturing into all that I have prayed for him to be.  What do you do when your prayers are answered?

For the longest time, my only identity has been “Nic’s Mom”.  That’s what the kids in elementary school used to call me.  I did not have a name until I began teaching the 1-5 year olds at church.  Now, I’m “Ms. Nikki”.  I thank God that He has kept us this far. The challenges have been great.  We’ve grown and matured together. My son makes me a better person. He makes me learn patience and compassion.  Those are graces and gifts that he walks in. Please believe that those are not things that I’ve taught him.  He came here from the heart of God with the ability to love unconditionally, walk with people who are not like him, and endure the challenges of a chronic health condition with a smile and sense of humor unrivaled.  This new phase of life is scary.

While change is constant, I am not always prepared for it when it happens. I am having a full on confrontation with the reality that my son is becoming a man, full of truth and revelation and growing in the things of God.  I can totally relate to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I wish I could ask her a few questions. "Mary, did you know that your baby boy would someday walk on water?" OK, so I won’t sing today, but that is totally how I am feeling.

My best friend looked me straight in my eyes, yesterday, as I shared my distress and her words of comfort were “it goes by fast too…”  I know that she loves me, but she was no help at all.  Her only child just left for her first year of college, so I expected for her to share my angst.  I guess I have to put on my big girl pants and suck it up.  I want to whine and fight and moan and groan about how I am so not ready for this but no one in my life will let me. I have to grow up. Selah.

Single parenthood is an assignment. Anybody who says different is a LIAR. While all parenting requires sacrifice, single parenting requires a double portion of grace, mercy, love, patience, kindness, and time.  I have faced the fact that I am one person and that being Superwoman is not a part of the job description. Single parenting has required a level of flexibility and adaptation to change that most do not have an opportunity to experience. I do a great job. I am by no means perfect, nor do I have all of the answers.  I am making up the answers as I go along most of the time. Through clear biblical instruction, I flow whichever way the Holy Spirit leads and I don’t always know where we are going to end up. Sometimes I get it and other times I miss it.

The fun part is the adventure of it all and knowing that if we get lost, God’s GPS works. He knows how to find us and put us back on the right track. Planning is a key part of my parenting process; however, even in planning, I’ve learned not to be rigid and inflexible because life can be unpredictable.  At the end of the day, I am satisfied with the reality that while the work of molding a life may be a dual function, it should be singular in focus to say that “God is God” above all.  In that, we are growing, maturing, shaping, enduring, overcoming, achieving and giving God the glory in the process.