As of 8:30 this morning I have joined the ranks of mothers who are gradually releasing their children into the world. Into their own lives. As she walked into her first day of kindergarten I realized that gone are the days where she spends the majority of her time with me. 7+ hours a day she will now be surrounded by people I don't know. She will be introduced to words, ideas and feelings that I no longer orchestrate or filter. Most of you already know the feelings that I am experiencing as you have done this many times over. You have released your kids into kindergarten, junior high, summer camp, mission trips and sleepovers with friends. You have watched them drive away on their first date and you have driven away from their dorm rooms where they will no longer come home to you every afternoon. Some of you have watched them being wheeled away into surgery or chemo treatment. We gradually release them into those milestones where mama's arms are not in reach and we are left anxiously awaiting for our arms to be filled with them again. Whether we get to do that at 3:30 this afternoon, in the recovery room, on a phone call, a weekend visit, after their deployment or over Christmas break….our arms await. And a long wait that can be for mamas and daddies who just want their babies to be ok.
Isn't the very goal of parenting to work ourselves out of the job? To get them to the point where they can stand on their own? It's a hard concept to grasp when one is in the throws of wanting to protect them from all that could be harmful, painful or difficult. When all you want to do is to go sit in their kindergarten class or live in an RV in the dorm parking lot it's hard to think of anything else. But it's part of the job description to extend the bungee cord so that they can develop a strong sense of self. So it is with tears and pain that I gave her more cord today. Not because she isn't ready but perhaps because I don't want her to be. I know the world can be difficult. It's not as safe as mama's arms. I know that her life will include confusion, pain, frustration and heartache. Even in kindergarten. It's not my job to shield her from those things and keep her in my arms forever. Instead it's my job to help her manage them in a way that strengthens her and prepares her to be all that God created for her to be. So today there is a shift in my role. I'm releasing her just a little.
Instead of protecting her and assuring that she experiences no pain I will be ready to sit with her in that which she finds painful. Instead of orchestrating only helpful positive lessons I will be ready as she maneuvers through that which is confusing or negative. I will help her consider how others might be feeling when she is consumed with her own hurt. I will remind her that she is smart no matter what the homework paper says at the top. I will hold her when there are no words. I will encourage her to be courageous in everything she attempts especially when she is afraid. I will build her up when others knock her down. I will laugh and play and involve myself in her world as much as I can without hindering her growth. I will help her reach out, be kind and make a difference in the hearts of others even in kindergarten. When she wants to know why kids can be mean and hurt her feelings I will do my best to explain why we should love them anyway. I will teach her to take responsibility for that which she wants to be different and help her to do something to make it so. I will pray fervently for her friends, her teachers, her influences, her faith and her heart. And every afternoon at 3:30 I will wait for that bungee cord to snap back to me where I will embrace her and fill her with all the love and truth that I can. I will remind her that the world will try to change her but that she was created to change her world. I will fill her up so that she can go out and fill up others. I will remind her of her source and her strength which is available when I am not. And on days like today I will seek Him more than usual. Tearfully seek Him. And I will be grateful that even though she leaves my embrace she is NEVER out of His.