I was talking to a friend today about her son’s upcoming graduation from high school. Two of my own children have graduated already and so I understand all those feelings that are bubbling just below the surface of her calm exterior- pride, worry, joy, hope, astonishment, wonder, elation, and even sadness. Each feeling filling her heart and mind as she prepares to see her son move from one station in his life to another; from boyhood to manhood. It’s overwhelming to say the least! It is a time of joy as we remember all the wonderful times while they were growing up, but a time of sadness too knowing that soon we will be “letting go” of someone we have held so close to us for the last 18 years. It is a tug-of-war on our hearts!
In a matter of a moment our “babies” are suddenly grown and moving forward in their lives, often leaving us to wonder how it went so fast. Sometimes when our babies are tiny, we are so consumed with feeding, changing diapers, bathing, and sleeping when possible that we wake up one morning to find that tiny baby, whose little lips puckered and quivered just before crying when he was hungry or sad, is now a full-fledged toddler who loves putting things into the toilet every bit as much as he loves cuddling with his mama. Likewise, as our children grow and change, we often focus so much on the day-to- day activities (homework, ball games, play dates, and of course all of our own day-to-day activities) that one day we wake up to see that our children, the ones who loved to sit in our laps and twirl our hair; the ones who wanted to eat hot dogs for weeks on end; the ones who fell asleep snuggled with their favorite toy, are all grown up. We’ve been there the whole time enjoying every second with them, but how has it come to this? How in the world, without us knowing it, did they suddenly become adults?
For many parents, this is a very scary time in their lives. We pray we’ve done our job and have raised our children to know right and wrong. We pray this will lead them to choose the right path. We pray we have raised them in the faith so that as they leave our sides they understand they are not alone, that God is walking right there alongside of them always. We pray that after all this time under our wings they will be ready to fly on their own. Yes, graduation isn’t just a scary time for the kids graduating, but a very worrisome time for parents as well. It’s not as if once our children are graduated and gone to college, or moved out of our homes, they are no longer our concern. No, the worries just change, but don’t decrease.
I often think about our Father in heaven. Does He worry about us this way too? When there are changes in our lives does He worry that we will make the right decisions; that we will look to Him for guidance? What about our blessed Mother Mary? Surely she was concerned about Jesus and how He left what He knew (carpentry, home life) to begin His ministry. However, she had confidence in her Son, and not only in all that she and Joseph had taught Him, but also in what He had taught her. We too must be like Mary, trusting in our children to fall back on what we have taught them and the values that we instilled in them. Also like Mary, we must trust in what our children have taught us over the years- goodness, faith, trust, love. We have seen them succeed in so many areas of their lives-academics, sports, friendships; we have seen them grow in their faith, drawing close to God in times of trouble; we have seen them treat others with respect and dignity. They have shown us what amazing people they have become over the years. We need to trust that just because they are no longer under our wing they are still the people we have seen them grow to be.
Raising children is a tough job. It is often thankless and overwhelming. We want so badly for our children to become good people who make a difference in the world. We have our children for such a limited time in their lives to help instill those traits which we know will not only benefit them in the world but will benefit their souls for an eternity. We have to fight with the outside world to help them learn what is right and holy. When we get to this point in their lives, where it is time for them to move forward without us, it is often very difficult to let go. We want to continue to protect and teach them, nurture and guide, love and cherish them. We have to find a new role in our children’s lives.
We are so blessed that God has trusted us enough to help form the lives and souls of His children. Have faith that you have done your job and that your child will be everything you have hoped and dreamed for him/her. Know that their lives are blessed, because of your guidance and love.
Letting go is hard. It is probably one of the hardest things we will do as parents. But have confidence that the seeds you have planted and nurtured will bear an abundance of good fruit. Place your child in God’s hands and watch in wonderment as your child blooms and grows in ways you couldn’t even imagine. As you miss that little child who once reached to stroke your face and tell you how much he loved you take heart in knowing that he is going out into the world to share that same love with others. He will touch their lives every bit as much as he touched yours. By letting go of him, you give the rest of the world a beautiful gift. Your tears of sadness over him leaving will be replaced by tears of joy as you see how many lives he changes. Yes, letting go is hard, but in letting go we allow God to enter our lives in new and amazing ways. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
© 2014. Michelle Fritz. All rights reserved.