“So what would you do, Mom, if you found out I was having sex with my boyfriend, but it wasn’t me who told you?”
And the frogs sang their summer song in the marshy spring down the hill.
The swing creaked under our weight, her legs stretched across the seat and her head leaning on my arm.
The night air breezed about in it’s lazy way, like summer skirts, cottony and soft.
The grass, too long, tickled my ankle bones.
And my breath, held long, reminded me to exhale.
Yes, I’m a mom of teenagers.
It’s not as hard as some may say it is, but it’s full of these questions, these moments that surprise and strangle my breath and remind me there aren’t easy answers.
And I feel vulnerable.
And I feel unprepared, unequipped for this task.
I cull the memory of my motherhood up to this point, looking into my experience for the right answer to this question, but I come up empty.
I haven’t been here before.
“Well,” I begin and leave off.
A car drives by on the county road just south of us. We feel the bass in our stomachs, then he rounds the corner and the summer night-sounds resume, barely filling the empty air. It weighs on me.
So much matters in the answers to questions like these. There’s so much at stake.
Then I remember how we got to this place on the swing in the summer, eating chocolate and strawberries, and me, with a glass of wine.
I remember her season of formation. Those painful months that stretched past a year that hurt and punched and tested the foundation of who she was.
I remember the battle for her, against her, with her.
I remember the night we slugged out verses of Ephesians and learned the truth about ourselves, and when I saw the softening in her eyes and the truth, like a balm, begin to heal her hurting heart.
It wasn’t my healing I doled out in dollops of grace — it was Jesus’ alone. His grace, his wounds that took on her own. I only served to apply it’s salve and pray and trust.
I remember that she isn’t mine alone, but that I am the gatekeeper. It’s a terrible job, bad pay, no benefits, long hours, very little chance of it developing into something more important.
But, gatekeeper I am.
I let in and let out. I choose what stays and goes; I decide what’s permissible and what cannot touch her. At least, that’s what I try to do.
But I can’t use this job to issue my opinions about music lyrics and the morality of playing poker or how short is too-short when it comes to mini-skirts. I must use this job for questions like this. For nights like this. And moments like this when grace needs to run free like winter melting, rushing down the mountainside.
“Would you be mad? Would you make us break up?” She pressed, bruising.
And although the inquiries were hypothetical–she didn’t even have a boyfriend–they weren’t rhetorical.
She needed an answer.
And I was the guard on duty.
So I began again and shared my heart.
And she listened.
And we explored that unknown territory together because we had a shared battle and had walked a vulnerable path together. The grace that I let in that summer night was not mine, but Jesus’ alone, so that the security she felt with me might usher her right into the throne-room of Christ. So I spoke His truth, His love, through the gauzy gate of mother-words and backyard swings.
Because I am accustomed to this work; I am the gatekeeper.
I work for Grace; I work for the Giver.