Back to school: a time to let go

IMG_9076-1It’s that time of year.  It’s “Back to School”.  This season brings with it a profound sense of newness and sadness at the same time. Goodbyes are said and kids take next steps. For parents, it’s always hard to believe our kids are growing up. It sometimes feels that they getting swallowed into a big new world.

I confess that I thought it would eventually change. That the mixed feelings would subside and that moving on would just feel much more normal than it does.  But, deep inside, even now, there still is that unsettled feeling. My kids are moving away from what is familiar (to me). There is a great unknown as we embark on the new school year.  I can’t help but see elementary age children and reflect on years gone by.  My children are nearly grown.  The three of them respectively are in high school, university and married with a career.  A lot has changed, but there still is a lot that is the same.  There is still a vulnerability, a little fear, sadness and excitement as they step into that next chapter of their lives.  They are moving on and for me, as a mother, I realized that each new year requires a new approach to “letting go”.  I need to be there for them, but it changes each year. I let go, I wish them well, but I continue to bring security and stability as a mom.  At times, it’s easy to feel like I’m not needed and yet, I know I am.  I just have to figure out how that is.  Is this the year I stop making lunches for them?  Do they buy all their own clothes? What part is theirs and what is mine?  Somehow these practical areas of service are some of the few ways I can still be “mom”.  (I’ve discovered that regardless of their age, feeding my kids and their friends is always a love language!)

I’ve realized that with each of my children “letting go” looks a little different. I need to be aware of what their needs are.  I need to know when is the right time to step in and when is the time to lean back. It’s a careful rhythm I need to manage.  During the mid to late teen years, they’ve all wanted my support to be more private.  I had to realize that I still had a role to play, it just is not as public. They still need to know that they are loved and cared for.  I affirm, support and celebrate their wins as they venture out on their own in their new adventures.

I really don’t think we will get it fully right.  A key lesson I’ve learned is that I will always be their mom.  I will always have a key role in each of my kids’ lives.  Its a little less hands on, but I need to stay involved.  I need to modify the ways I show it.  I trust, I love, I do special things. I spend much more time than ever in prayer for them. God can do wonders that I couldn’t even begin to imagine.  It’s all part of a painful parenting process called, “letting go”.  That process helps create beautiful, well-balanced adults.  For me, this process began when they learned to crawl, I feared that they would hurt themselves as they were no longer solely dependent on me.  They were discovering independence.  We encouraged it, celebrated it and then they moved onto other things.  That is what “Back to School” represents.   It’s about the new and the unknown.  This is where the values and attributes that my children have learned over the years of careful training and teaching have the opportunity to shine.  They are becoming the adults God intended them to be.


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