And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. (Luke 2:43 KJV)
When our offspring are babies, we care for, protect and watch over them. But as they grow and develop, it is a parent’s job to wean them, not only from the breast, but from the dependence on the parents. A parent’s job is to work themselves out of a job.
After I became a mother myself, my own mother frequently reminded me that my declaration of independence was expressed firmly by two words: “By myself!”
Years later, Jordan, my firstborn, declared her own independence by saying “Baby do it!”
We want our children to grow up, to become self-sufficient, but that process certainly can be fraught with perils.
Every time I read the story of 12-year old Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem when his parents were headed home to Nazareth after the Passover, I am reminded of a time when I scared my own parents. I was maybe 3 years old, and we were vacationing at Myrtle Beach.
I was unwilling to go near the water (a fear I later outgrew!), so I played in the sand wearing my brand new red bathing suit. As I heard the story recounted years later, my parents looked up at some point and realized I was nowhere near. Mother raised the alarm, and started searching for me. She finally saw my little red bathing suit wa-a-ay down the beach! Daddy ran, scooped me up and returned me to safety.
Joseph and Mary could easily identify with them, I feel sure!