A couple of years ago I dropped off my son, the last of four, at college. Since he is less than an hour and a half away, I wasn’t overly emotional in leaving knowing this was the moment I had been working toward since the day he was born. Having survived each of my other children leaving the nest, I was confident that this child had finally arrived at a point when it was time to test his wings.
Bittersweet, yet knowing he is in God’s hands, my brain took me back to years past when I had four little ones under foot, foolishly thinking that ‘this day would never arrive’.
“Ha, it is here!”
Wanting to convey our love for our son and leave him with assurance that he could be successful, my husband uttered words of affirmation as he worked hard to hold back the tears. Confidently, my son’s parting words to us were unlike any we had heard from our other children.
“Dad, Mom, I can feel it; this is where I’m supposed to be. I made the right choice!”
The drive home was more than a little quiet as his dad and I each wrestled with our memories, emotions, and dawning of our new stage of life called empty-nest. With the thought of some of those overwhelming years of tweens and teens, I caught myself thinking… “Yippee!! Freedom!” But five minutes late, the “Yippee!!” feeling was slowly ebbing away and I caught myself praying and asking God to help me find my new reality.
Hovering in the back of my mind were the memories from my other kids’ ventures into the promised land of college, along with the phone calls of wanting to come home having frustrations of trying to figure out to survive in their new world. “That’s right,” I smiled as I told myself, “he’ll be calling two to three times a day for a while until he gets settled…”
With that thought, my expectations were set. I excitedly anticipated the call as I poured through my “As soon as my son heads off to college To-Do list.” As I cleaned areas in the house that hadn’t been touched since we had moved in almost a decade ago, I couldn’t help but rehearse my list of questions to ask when he called. “Did he find his classes? How’s the roommate working out? Has he made friends? How are the professors? Any cute girls? Are you bored with the cafeteria food yet?”
I waited…and waited. Two days went by…then three.
Ah, I’ll shoot him a quick text.
Maybe an e-mail?
Finally…four days later…a call. “Hallelujah!!”
As I grabbed the phone and sat in my favorite chair for a long chat, he muttered something he needed me to do. “Yeah! He still needs me,” I rejoiced. After his quick request and my assurance to take care of it, I could tell he was ready to end the conversation, but being a seasoned Mom, I quickly started my litany of questions. Before even getting to question number two, I got the “gotta go, Mom” response that ended the call.
Disappointment sat in like a dark cloud.
As I contemplate my new reality, it is becoming painfully obvious, that it is time once again to let go in order to stay engaged. I’ve learned over the years that letting go means that I must once again recognize that God created this child to be a separate human being apart from myself. God has a plan for this child at this season of his life as well as a plan for me. There will be times for our lives to intersect and times when they won’t, EVEN WHEN I DESPERATELY WANT THEM TO!
God’s word keeps speaking to me over and over as the silent walls of our home echo around me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Duh, I know this! However, once again I need to be reminded. Emotional times, times of disappointment, and new seasons of life are intended to bring us back to the Creator. He’s there to help us through the difficulties of parenting when we are constantly in the throes of transition. Each day we are moving toward that time when we will have to let them spread their wings.
The questions I keep contemplating are–
- Am I allowing my son to gracefully soar out of the nest ready to catch him if he needs assistance, or am I holding on too tight so that MY emotional needs are met?
- Am I ready to let go of the expectations I have for my child so that God can reveal the plans he has for him and ME?
No matter what the stage of life, tweens, teens, or twenty-something, as parents we need to continually remind ourselves that God created our children as separate from us. He has different plans for my sons and daughter than he has for me. Will I trust Him to be God of their lives rather than continually thrusting myself into that role?
Dare you to join me in contemplating the relationship you have with each of your kids, especially if they are tweens or older. What expectations do you have of them that you need to let go of?
Double dare you to ask several friends to join me on the journey.
I’m excited about being on this parenting journey together!
“Let go… and let God”,
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