Letting go of your kids
Today with millions (maybe thousands) of other parents across new England , I sent my two teenagers off to the first day of school, although I didn’t really send them, they just go now. And I exhaled. Many years ago I would be anxious sending them off, now I rest. when they were small I would spend those first few mornings fretting, “Did they get on the right bus, are they going to be kidnapped, will they find their way to the bathroom ok, what if they get embarrassed, will someone tease them, hurt them, lead them astray through false teaching.” I longed for them to be loved perfectly and overall experience a perfect world. The possibility they might not, led to all sorts of fears and anxieties.
AS they grow into people, I realize even I cannot love them perfectly and that perfection is a myth. When my teens were small and vulnerable I hated when summer ended, it was in September all my anxieties began. Summer was a time of “perfect” control. I mean yes, I loved to be with them and I thought I had the power to create the Garden of Eden for them which would somehow produce the perfect people. (to my disappointment they remember very little of those days in the sun). They played happily in the back yard under my watchful eye. Running under the sprinkler was the best day ever! children are so simple and easy to please. I loved eating lunch together, making popsicles, and cookies, gathering crickets, building forts, using glue and crayons and watching Martha Speaks before nap time and then napping. We spent the rainy days snuggled in jammies reading bible stories and i was still a hero back then.
We took long walks with me pushing the carriage, with me making the decisions about what street to take, and how long to stay out, and when to leave, and who we would talk to and what we would wear. I was always in control, I made all the decisions, just the way I liked it and that felt safe because I knew I would only make the best decisions for my children, because I loved them so fiercely and loving well would clearly lead to perfect children? right? And they really were the best children ever, very close to perfect, which reflected well, I must say, on me and that made me feel like a Rockstar, but it was fleeting. and then they turned into teenagers and i realize now how warped my vision was. when they were small i hated giving up summer with all its unstructured glories. I hated when I had to release them to those unchurched teachers and toxic lunch rooms with the heathen children, introducing them to the likes of harry potter and sponge bob , swear words, and video games. and eventually polluting their perfect, sensitive, little hearts and minds. At least that’s how I imagined it all. I dreaded September because I no longer had the control I thought I had all summer.
Losing control is awful and it has blown all my hopes for perfection to bits, and smothered my dreams and fairy tale endings. Most of my control is gone and it went down in bitter flames and hot tears this summer. God is probably smiling. My control did not end with September this year but with age. Over are the summer days when they remained at home. Now cafeteria and bus talk is like a PBS special in comparison to what they could be seeing on the internet or at a friends house. At least in the café there are chaperones, unchurched or not I’ll take them. Sponge bob is only a dream for me now, a sweet dream when movies like the NUN are the sought out favorites.
I was considering a celebration cake when they left this morning, Why? Because my heart can rest – I miss them, but the reality is I missed them all summer, it was a summer of a hundred Septembers, a summer of saying goodbye , even when they were here I had no control. I am never the hero anymore, but I have magically morphed into the villian. They don’t spend the days under my watchful eye in the back yard making mud pies and looking for spiders under rocks. It was “can I go here, and ride there without a helmet, and take the car to the cape and spend the day with my girlfriend alone, and go fishing, and go to the mall with my friends…and can i not ask permission anymore. All I could hear all day every day was, “mom we don’t need you anymore, and we really don’t want you, can you move to the side and let us get by?” that is what I heard. this is what I was secretly thinking:
“what about snuggling on the couch with our jammies in the rain and watching a movie together? I’m serious. no one ever wanted to.
“mom, we don’t like the movies you pick out.” and sometimes it sounds like this, “I’m going”. All summer my heart was on high alert and my finger on the find friends button. So going to school now means I can breathe, freedom from all the reminders that I don’t get to choose anymore, I’m not in control, “God help me.” I am happy to let the school and teachers serve in my absence, Sure they may be exposed to dirty language and harsh teachers and literature of distasteful content, but I know where they are. Out of desperation I have silenced those voices and visions of them being kidnapped and bullied, and chosen to trust the walls of that public school, and finally believe God can be in the school too even though its secular.
The things I fear now seem far greater and of more consequence than heartless teachers and mean kids. I sometimes think I over loved my kids and gave them too much, perhaps they don’t seem to think they need God for anything. That is my greater concern these days, they are only looking to themselves and UTUBE to make decisions about life. I am not able to make decisions for them anymore and they don’t even believe i can help with decisions.
I am finally alone in the house after the summer from hell in regards to worry, and I am ready to take a challenge because Lord I really need to rest. I need my heavenly father to surround me with his heart, and his decisions, because I am tender, raw and needy. I will storm heaven with the names of my children, but I will seek his strength for this season of letting go.
In the disney short pixar short which is advertised above. A mother raises a little dumpling as her son, they do everything together, until he “grows up” and doesn’t want to be with her. While he is grown up he still looks like a little dumpling . At the end he wants to go and she is trying to get him to stay and finally she picks him up and eats him. It’s a very good depiction of the transitions and sadness a mother feels when her children change and she needs to let go.
UPDATE: 6 months after my freedom was won, it was lost again when the world announced no school for the remainder of the year!!!! Just remember when you are afraid to let them go, don’t worry they will always come back 🙂