The traveling circus: Friendships in every stage of parenting

Written by Lisa Tyson
Published on January 11, 2022

When my kids were younger, I felt like I was living in a circus. Constant activity. Animals everywhere—actual dogs, costumed children, stuffed—

My gymnast daughter flipping upside down and walking around on her hands. Her brothers trying new and (terrifying) feats of strength and bravery both inside and outside of the house. Each of my children, constantly in some state of “crazy” in their own “ring.” 

I was the Ringmaster of a real life Three Ringed Circus. I have a friend who says, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys” when she sees chaos around her. 

In the Tyson household, they were definitely my circus and definitely my monkeys. They still are. Except my circus has started traveling in three different directions—and they are taking their “rings” with them. 

The rings divided

Can you believe that they would do something like that? One of my performers took his “ring” to Lubbock to perform at Texas Tech. Another took his “ring” to perform in Stephenville at Tarleton State University. My youngest keeps trying to take her “ring,” but I am holding on to it for dear life—almost as tight as I hold as she is learning to drive. 

But it won’t be long, and she will rip her “ring” from my hands and place it where she will call home for the next several years. 

You think that they will bring their “ring” back when they finish college. They don’t! That is not God’s design for our children to live with us forever. 

A new kind of circus

As they have gotten older, I have realized that my circle of friends has revolved around the activities in their rings. 

I had soccer mom friends and Class of 2017 in one ring. I had FFA mom friends, football mom friends, and Class of 2020 mom friends in the second ring. Then, I have gymnastic mom friends and Class of 2025 friends in my daughter’s ring. 

I had spent so much time investing in them, that I began to realize that I lost myself—not completely, but as each child left, my circle of ladies that I “did life with” got a little bit smaller. 

Then I joined The Circus. The funny thing about this particular Circus is that we had all been “around” each other for years. We go to the same church. Some of our kids go to the same schools and are in the same student ministry. 

We run in the same circles and see each other at the same places but our kids are all different ages (from 14 to 28) so “our same “circle” is really big.

We “do” life around each other, but we did not really realize that we were actually a “circus”—until we did. 

A new sisterhood

In May, a friend’s mom died. A group of ladies bought plane tickets and flew to Tennessee together. We were quite the sight going through the airport—a group of ladies in funeral clothes and tennis shoes with our carry-on bags of comfies. 

The text threads leading up to this adventure after we all had each other’s numbers could make you laugh until you cried. Someone commented that “we look like a traveling circus” and The Circus was born. 

The look on our friend’s face, and the feelings when we saw her, when we walked into that funeral home a long way from Texas are truly indescribable. 

That is when we knew. We had something special. Something precious. Something that we had all waited our entire lives to find. A sisterhood. 

Since then we have spent so much time laughing together. We do more than laugh though. We cry. We share victories. We fight battles. We storm the gates of heaven and the Throne of God together in prayer. 

We text weekly. It’s the only group message I’ve never left! I never know what’s coming. A funny picture? A prayer need? A potential adventure? A new restaurant? These are the ladies I will grow old with—alongside our husbands, of course. (Who, by the way, have also become friends.) 

They let me be me—unapologetically. I trust them with all that goes along with me being exactly who I am. They meet me there. Then they take me to Jesus. He is the center of everything we are. 

Now our legacy

Our kids are putting on their own circuses, becoming Ringmasters, and filling their rings up with their own circus activities and animals. It is what is supposed to happen. We, their parents, are guests to their performances. They may invite us to help care for their animals or be a guest performer. 

But, it’s not our circus anymore. It is our legacy. 

If you find yourself lost in the circus of your children. It’s okay—it’s a season. When that season ends, don’t find yourself alone in your tent. Find those people who fill your cup. Take the time to develop relationships and be a friend. 

Allow someone into your life to be your friend. You will need to have friends to sit with you when you visit your kid’s circus. “Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence” (Proverbs 27:9 TPT).

Consider a few extra resources:

Learning to drive: Trusting God’s plan for our kids

Learning to trust God with your adult children

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Lisa Tyson

My name is Lisa Tyson. I am a Baylor graduate, have been married to the only man I have ever loved for the past 24 years, and we have 3 perfectly imperfect children — 20 (rising Jr. at Texas Tech), 17 (rising Senior), and 12 (rising 7th grader). Our oldest two are boys and the youngest is a sweet and spicy girl. I run my own practice as an Educational Diagnostician working with school districts to identify and serve their bilingual students while my husband works in the Operations Department for our church. I speak Spanish fluency and I love to read and scrapbook. One of my many life verses is, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). I am far from an Insta-mazing wife and mom — we eat the same leftovers over and over, I forget every picture day, and I had to buy my middle child new socks and underwear when I packed all of his and sent them to college with his brother (in an effort to not forget anything). But one thing I do well is this: I remember that the Lord has lavished us with His grace and nothing that touches our family is by accident. So we press on and push through knowing that He has always been faithful — no matter what.

Read more about Lisa

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