“If John Lennon was right that life is what happens when you’re making other plans, parenthood is what happens when everything is flipped over and spilling everywhere and you can’t find a towel or a sponge or your ‘inside’ voice.”
― Kelly Corrigan, Lift
Letting Go, Again and Again.
I try to keep a very light grip when it comes to my children, but somehow the heart doesn’t really understand how to do that. When you’ve loved so hard and for so long, approximately 18 summers, how do you ever really let go?
Last Monday, after having both daughters home for about 40 hours, I dropped Brooke off at Norfolk International and then drove Candace to the Greyhound Station. Just weeks before, Rob and I sent Grant off to start his new life in Kansas. You’d think by now that I’d have a handle on all these hellos and goodbyes.
I thought I was doing better, as evidenced by not making Grant pose for goodbye photos (only because it was 5:45 a.m.) or Brooke (only because I kept hugging her and my hands weren’t free), but then after putting Candace on her Greyhound, I realized. . . they are all gone. For good. Sure, they’ll come and go, but this time seemed more final.
When Candace walked up the steps of the bus, it happened. My heart started hurting so bad. The tears came. I sat in my car for a few minutes, let the tears do their work, and somehow drove home. I was going to do a little shopping, but that wasn’t going to happen. I went home.
En route to the airport, Brooke asked, “So Mom, what are you going to do today? We’re both leaving you at once. Sorry ’bout that.”
I said, “Well, the only way to explain this process, Brooke, is that it is like being a gerbil on a wheel. I’ll walk round and round…until I find my way again. It usually takes me a day or two.”
I was right. The rest of the day was pretty useless. I did laundry. Watched a movie while eating lunch. Cleaned the upstairs a bit. And, then, by sunset, I sat out back, turned on my computer, and started moving forward, one click of the computer key at a time.
Doing the Next Thing.
The next morning, Rob left for work. I awoke to a very quiet house (I know, mommas of young children, you long for this). As I was watering the plants on the front porch, I paused to check on our little birds-in-progress. To my surprise, one of the little chicks was sitting atop the nest.
“Well, hello there,” I said. “Look at you! How on the earth did you end up here?” I resisted the urge to take control and put my little chick back in the nest. I figured…he/she got there. They’ll figure it out. I continued doing my thing.
The next day, I went back to check on him. To my surprise, he was gone.
Well, I thought to myself. That figures. Now, all the chicks are gone.
It was a moment. I’m not going to lie.
I lowered the wreath to find that inside one of the little chicks had died. Oh, the tears came again.
Then, I saw one unhatched egg. More tears.
Slowly, I removed the nest from the wreath.
Well, they are all gone now, I thought. Time to move on.
Letting Go, Again and Again
I write a great deal about letting go. I suppose it is a big part of what I have learned to do and what I help others do.
For me, letting of my children hasn’t been easy. Some have an easier time. If you are like me, I offer a few little tips that might help you prepare for the release:
- Letting go comes in stages. Leaving them in the nursery at church for the first time. Putting them on that big yellow bus. Sending them off to camp, alone. Putting them on the plane to visit a friend. Watching them drive away, solo for the first time.
- Don’t lose yourself in the process of child rearing. You will never hear me say to put SELF above FAMILY, but while raising your family, you must keep your sense of self in place. Develop your gifts, talents, and skills. They will be gone one day and you need to keep your purpose and passions afloat.
- If married, strengthen your marital bond so that when they do fly away from the nest, you STILL have a marriage in place. Research states that children want to see that their parents are happy…and have a happy marriage.
- Lean hard on YOUR God who loves your children MORE than you do. Strengthen your relationship to God and be part of a vibrant community of faith.
- Trust the work of your hands. You have poured all you can into their little lives. Release them into the world, trusting that you have given them the wherewithal to make wise choices and do the right thing. The rest is up to them.
And, then, begin the re-nesting process. What’s next for YOU? Oh, that is so hard to even write. After so many years of caring for others, it is time to move on with what God has for you.
Let’s see what that might be? Ready? Let’s do this.