“And the return address for this package?” the UPS store clerk innocently asked. I caught my breath. My son waited. The simple question had a complex answer. I began to explain how we were in Salt Lake City, mailing paperwork to Vancouver for our new graduate to travel to China before leaving for college in Ohio. His documents had our old mailing address; we had no forwarding address. We would be staying with strangers in Washington state, but our boy-man would be hosted by friends back in Knoxville. I felt ridiculous and tired and homesick. “Send it to Vancouver with the out-of-date home address and a return address to Knoxville, but call us in Washington if it’s lost.” Choosing the words took all the emotional strength I had left. I wanted to run back to our fourth hotel and have a melt down. But my boy was watching and listening; he needed me to model how the Lord is strong when our world is fragile.

Boys need moms who stand up when they want to melt down.

Standing Up When You Want to Melt Down via The MOB Society

In the months before his high school graduation, life unraveled in slow motion. Changing jobs, moving to the opposite coast, selling our home, and packing up the stuff of our lives forced our boy to wrap up childhood abruptly. With the help of friends, we pulled off a graduation party in time to drop off his ceremonial gown at the Goodwill before the truck came to load up our lives. Each event took us a step further on the road of upheaval. My husband kept reminding me that our son was watching. He was observing one of his final childhood lessons: how to trust God in the pressure cooker of change. He needed to see us stand up in faith.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe,” (Proverbs 18:10).

By the time we crammed our suitcases into our SUV and shoe-horned the dog beside our graduate, our son was less than joyful. It felt like getting the short end of the divine deal of God’s will for our lives. I could see his grief, disbelief, and anger at how the strangeness was thrust on him at such a special time. I understood. I felt it too, and I thought if ever I had permission for a total meltdown, it was then. I cried out to the Lord to help me demonstrate peaceful confidence in front of the unrelenting eyes of our son. When life is hard, we can and should acknowledge pain, confusion, weakness, and emotions.

Boys need moms who stand up when they want to melt down.

In moments when change and uncertainty are heaviest, God’s promises prove true. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” (Isaiah 41:10). By God’s mysterious grace and strength, I did not melt down on the floor of the UPS Store.  As my boy saw me stand up in the vice of life, he saw God’s faithfulness prove true. He saw that when we are weakest, God is strong. What better final lesson could he learn?

How does a mom stand up when she wants to melt down?

  1. You do not need to fear. Stop and take a deep breath.
  2. You are not alone. Whisper thanks to God for being with you.
  3. You have help. Ask God to help you, and ask your son to join in, if appropriate.
  4. You are held by God. Clasp your hands together as a physical reminder of God’s grasp.
  5. You will find power in God’s name. Use God’s name to answer your hardship.

Before our boy left the nest for destinations known and unknown, my emotions bubbled near the surface. I stashed tissues in random places for random outbursts. We can’t foresee our son’s future, but we can pray that when his life is in a vice, he’ll remember what it looks like to stand up when you want to melt down.

What helps you gain control of your emotions when you want to melt down?
How does your son respond if he sees you fall apart?

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