Faith, life, Parenting
Comments 13

Wanted: One Gatekeeper, No Experience Required

“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.


Linking up with Bonnie and Jennifer



  1. I think being a mom is a more difficult task than being a dad. I know there are exceptions, but in general I do believe moms are the gate keepers. I have three daughters, the youngest a teenager. I’m thankful for my wife, who like you is the assigned gate keeper by God. Nice job mom.

    • Well, the job is different, maybe not more difficult. I think that there is a lot of trusting that dad’s do because you aren’t by nature “noodle sorters”- by that I mean that women and girls tend to mix everything together, all aspects of life wind together like noodles, so it’s all connected. This, I have to admit, is exhausting, but we’re more holistic that way. Dad’s do a lot more trusting and less talking and doing and I think there is a big job there. Aren’t you glad that the design is intended to include two parents? That way we can job-share!

    • Oh thank you! I am marvelously helped to do the task – God knows I need it! Thanks for reading, for sharing and for the lovely compliment — bless you today!

  2. i am glad that you were there in that moment for her…it is so important…and you did not try to gloss over it either…kids need that…that is why we are given to them and them to us…it is a shared battle…and you get it…and that is a beautiful thing…

    brian miller
    (sorry for some reason it is not letting me log out my WP blog)

  3. Beautiful writing. I am a mother of a teenage daughter who has a lovely heart and good questions too. And we are gatekeepers, but without the investment of time to listen in love, that word doesn’t have the same meaning.

  4. This is beautiful how you listened to your daughter and how you wrote about it. Love how you are partnering with God and how you are modeling His grace to her…nice to meet you πŸ™‚

  5. Wow, our kids do test us, I have failed so many times! It’s what we do that counts, our best is all we can offer with the help from God’s Word helps a great deal! The greatest of these is LOVE! Love never falls!

  6. Alyssa~I just tried posting a comment but it was deleted-sorry if this comes through twice!! I just wanted to tell you this is THE most beautiful thing I have read in a long time. You brought me to tears and bated breath when you first spoke of the gatekeeper. You captured in just paragraphs the images, and thoughts and feelings I have towards my 4 year old daughter and the vision and fears I have for the future. What beautiful piece of writing. WOW.

  7. I’m not sure how I would have handled that question but I have to hand it to you. Listening and talking it out truthfully with your daughter is the best way. My mom and I were close and I always felt like I could talk to her about anything. But she always told me the truth even when I didn’t want to hear it. I respected her for that too.

  8. Teresa says

    AHHHHHH I loved this conversation you shared…
    no judgement..just pure life..sharing from the depths of your heart.


  9. Alyssa,

    I’m really, really, REALLY glad you’re taking notes. I’ll need to revisit these in a few years. πŸ™‚ (Mine are 10 and 7.)

    Let’s keep on working for Grace and the Giver. He’ll equip us!

    Really glad you linked. What a delight you are…

  10. Susie P. says

    Thank you for your post! This is such great prep for me. My oldest daughter is 11 and I feel this stuff coming! I’ve gained a great deal to think about today! Thank you!

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