“How do I let go?” I thought to myself in the week before my son was due to start his first year in college.
A phrase from the song “Once In a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads had been rattling around in my head for days: “Well how did I get here?” followed quickly by every mothers’ advice that was part joke and part prophesy: “Enjoy them while they’re still at home—it all goes by So rapid!”
Our lives were completely transformed when I discovered that my husband was pregnant. After two years of trying to conceive, it was nothing short of miraculous that we were finally going home parents.
Soon, our lives revolved around painting our house and planning our nursery. We also had to baby-proof everything. Our child was involved in every action and thought that took place over the course of our days, weeks, months, or years.
And yet, here we stood, getting ready to say goodbye in just one more week—not to meet face to face again until Thanksgiving. College was the best of all places for him as he started his first steps into the adult world—but still, the question begged …“How do I let go?”
Isn’t it ironic that the very impulse we have as parents to instinctively protect our children is the very impulse we must slowly, and carefully, let go of so that our children can grow and become the people that God would have them be?
The process of parenting is a constant stream of moments asking us to let go—to have faith—faith in them as growing, evolving people, and faith in a loving God’s plan for them.
God teaches us as parents so gracefully with those little letting-go moments: guiding our child as we let him go so that he can take his first steps; letting his little body move as we guide him as he enters the classroom; letting his little hand go as he balances to pedal solo on the bike; letting his hands go of the keys as he takes his car out on his feet.
We cheer, congratulate and applaud each step our children make towards independence.
Every new milestone brings me a little sadness. I know that life won’t be the same again. It’s a moment now trapped in a picture or a video, encapsulated in time.
It’s in these moments that I find I’m the one in need of spiritual mothering as I reach out for consolation from Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary has many faces that artists have given life to: Mary as the young mother holding her baby; Mary and Joseph scolding Jesus at the synagogue for believing him lost for three consecutive days; Mary holding her son’s body to her heart; Mary looking up at the glory of Christ Jesus, her child, in heaven.
Through the dramatic narrative that is Mary’s journey through motherhood, I know that there is no joy, no sorrow that she does not understand. There is where I find my faith in God deepened, as I let go once more.
Heather Ruane belongs to Christ the King Church in Richland. You can reach editor Lucy Luginbill at the Herald newsroom at 4253 W. 24th Avenue Kennewick WA 99338 with questions and comments. Or email [email protected].
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