As a parent, how do we rejoice when letting our kids go hurts our heart? Releasing them isn’t easy. How do we do it, and do it well?
I am a mom trying to find the answer to this question. I’ve spent years releasing my children to new seasons and new levels of independence. As my oldest is a Junior in High School and my youngest is a Freshman, I am becoming painfully aware of how little time I have left with my babies who aren’t really babies any more.
WHERE ARE YOU RELEASING CHILDREN TOO?
With today being the first day of school I’m aware many “Momma tears will be shed as we release them in to new seasons and levels of independence.
Where are you releasing your child to?
- Kindergarten Teacher
- Coach/Team/ Squad
- Middle School
- Junior, High
- High School
- Apartment or Dorm
From the beginning, parenthood has been about letting them go. During delivery and birth we travailed to release them from our body. Later we released them from nursing at our breast to self feeding. As time went on we encourage them to move from needing to be carried to taking their own steps to walk on their own. As time goes on, we will travail as they enter into their own adult life. It will not be without labor or pain.
We didn’t realize it at the time, but as soon as they became able to walk on their own, each step brought them a little further away from us. No one taught us that “hands on parenting” is a very short lived season of life. We spent our time “surviving today” and missed the fact that our time with them wouldn’t be forever.
MILESTONES AND A PARENT’S ROLE
As our children reached milestones of potty training, solid foods, and big kid beds our role in their lives changed. We were still needed and wanted to be a part of their daily lives, but we slowly released them in to being more responsible for their own lives. Even though they began carrying their own bags and bathing themselves, everything in the parent’s life was about the children.
Eventually, our children embrace milestones of driver’s license, first loves, first jobs, graduation, moving out, or starting families. These “moving into adulthood” milestones, move us further into the background of their lives. Our constant care and input is no longer needed and in large part not wanted.
MILESTONES: REJOICE OR BURDEN
The early milestone were ones we easily rejoiced in. Moving past diapers, teething, pacifiers, and toddler beds were definite ones we could celebrate. Other milestones are more difficult to rejoice over. As our children move into new seasons it can be a struggle to find balance. One moment they need us for everything, and the next they are sullen teenagers who would rather stay isolated in their room. We are expected to move from knowing all the details of their lives to going days without hearing from them when they go off to school or are building their own lives. How do we make this transition?
As parents our identity can easily become tied up in the presence and calendar of our children. We have years of being room moms, team moms, booster moms, taxi moms only to have to face an empty nest. After years of everything being about our children, we have no idea how to live life without it being tied to our children’s schedule and needs.
Our goal as parents is to raise our children to have the ability and courage to strike out on their own and build a good life. As they do this, it can be quite painful on the parent left behind not knowing what to do with their days. How do we continue to celebrate the amazing people they are becoming and allow that to be BIGGER than the sorrow we experience in the seasons as they need us (and want us) less and less?
In this time we need to celebrate that we did our job well. We definitely didn’t do it perfectly, but through God’s grace we did it to the best of our ability and God will take care of the rest of the details.
We can celebrate because we have the promise that they will turn back to the right paths.
When our children were in the beginning seasons of development, we encouraged them to take their first steps. In that season our job was to be in front of them, holding our arms out and lovingly encouraging them to be brave, believe in themselves and their ability, and to take that first step…all the while, silently praying that they wouldn’t get hurt.
Entering the “becoming an adult” season, we cheer them on from behind, telling them that they have what it takes to walk this path. Our arms are still outstretched, partly to gently push them, but also so that they know we are still here ready to comfort, support, and encourage them when they look back uncertain about their next step. We are still praying that they don’t get hurt.
A major difference between the beginning seasons and becoming an adult season though is that when they took their first steps, they were walking toward us…in the becoming adults, they are walking away. Because this season is personally painful, we have to be careful not to allow the new things our children are embracing become painful stumbling blocks for us.
DON’T GIVE UP
As our children enter seasons that seem to push us aside, it is easy to allow the pain of real and perceived rejection to cause us to withdraw and pull away from them. If we allow the new seasons our children are entering to wear us down and make us, we can become discouraged and give up on finishing this season of our parenting race well.
In this season of changes we still have a very important role in their lives.
- Show up even when they don’t greet us with the same enthusiasm they did when they were three.
- Continue to listen and attempt to comfort them as they pour out their fears and broken hearts even though a kiss no longer makes things all better.
- Give counsel even though they have to make their own choices and live with those consequences…good or bad.
Mostly we stay behind them with arms wide open, ready to embrace them should they decide to run back to the safety of mom. We will remain in the shadows ready to step in and be what they want/need us to be, embracing that the days of us being the center of their universe are mostly over.
A REVELATION ABOUT RELEASING OUR CHILDREN: ARMS OPEN WIDE
As I write this, I realize that the posture of motherhood is “arms wide open”. The enemy would want to use pain of releasing our children to cause us to have a “motherhood identity crisis”.
GOD’S ARM ARE OPEN TO US
Just as our arms remain open to our children to provide hope, encouragement, healing, and safety–God’s arms are wide for us to run to for the same things. He knows the pain and struggle of letting go. As Daddy God, He wants us to cling to Him to heal our hurts and guide us through our disappointments.
MAYBE THEY ARE MY MILESTONES AS MUCH AS MY CHILDREN’S
With each new season our children become closer to the person God has designed them to be as well as are more prepared to be fulfill the purpose He has for their lives. As parents we walk through each season with them.
I know for a fact I am not the same person I was when I first began this path of parenthood. I’d be willing to bet you aren’t either.
Perhaps God uses these season to grow us closer to who He has designed us to become as well. He still has a further purpose for us and our lives beyond seeing our children become good adults.
These new seasons and milestones will not kill us. I hope and pray that we do well as we finish this season of mothering. Let’s trust that at the end of this, we will have allowed God to use motherhood to shape us into who He has planned for us to be.
Maybe one day, we will be the woman that is talked about in this verse.
So sweet moms, keep your heart and arms open toward your children no matter what milestones they are reaching or season they are entering. It can be thrilling and heartbreaking at the same time. Lets work to not allow the hurt stirring in our hearts cause us to miss the joy of seeing our children become the people God designed them to be.