Life & Lagniappe

Letting Go When Our Children Grow Up

April 2, 2017

Letting our grown children go can sometimes be difficult. It highlights one of the many paradoxes of raising children. We are so proud of who they have become, how they have turned out. But at the same time we are so sad they are growing away from needing us daily. They are growing away from the journey we have been on together and starting their own journeys.

In October 2016, our daughter Sarah married. We love Brian and are so grateful to the Lord for bringing them together. That said, the fact Brian is her first “go to” now when she has something to share, at times overwhelms my heart. He is who she turns to when she hurts or needs to talk. He is also the one that notices when she sees something that delights her and when he can, he purchases it for her. This is how it should be and I am elated he is there for her, but still….
So many things have changed in our lives since Sarah met Brian. And Michael and I believe in the much proclaimed statement, “We have not lost a daughter, but gained a son!” Having said that, I miss the nights a little red head would come to our bedroom door and say, “Mom, I don’t feel well and can’t sleep. Can you get up and watch a movie with me?” I don’t know how many times we watched “Balto” during those late nights.
I miss the days spent in the floor building Lego villages with my little girl. Many days, I put house work aside and got down in the floor and played with her. I miss the times she would crawl in my lap or curl up beside me. Together we traveled to worlds way beyond our front door as we read now treasured books. I miss those days, so very much.
Even though I miss those days, those precious times, I would never pull her back to them. They now live in their rightful place, our memories. Watching her grow to who she has become has been rewarding. Those sweet days of her youth though gone still live on in her character. Knowing this makes the bitter sweetness of their passing worth it.
What do we raise our children for if not to let them go? To send them out into this world to thrive, to teach others what they have learned is our goal. To equip them for their next journey, the one they take without us. Oh, we get the post card stating, “Wish you were here!” But we know they are enjoying this time with those chosen to travel with them. And if we could be there, we would be more in the way than helpful.
So we stand back and let them go. We want to pack their bag, or at least send them with a bag of goodies. What we don’t understand is we packed their bags years ago. Daily as we interacted with them, we put their favorite goodies in a cute little lunch box or paper bag.
Even so, we want to be sure they pull out what we packed at the best time. That they eat all the goodies we sent, that they don’t go hungry. Remember, it’s OK if they don’t do life our way. It’s OK if they eat the chips with the cookie at lunch and leave the sandwich for a snack later. We gave them the tools they need to now navigate their journey. We need to trust them to use those tools at the opportune time for them, not us.
Letting go can be so hard, so challenging. They are after all so deeply planted in our hearts. We hurt when they hurt; we find happiness in their happiness. And when they do go, they take a piece of our hearts with them. A piece we will never get back. It’s painful, but in that pain is also found joy.
Joy for their growth and accomplishments, joy for their happiness and joy simply in who they are. I hope you find that joy in your grown children. I hope you can find joy in how they are finding their own way.  Joy in their new journey!

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  • Reply Sherry April 5, 2017 at 7:00 PM

    Cindy, more and more, I understand my Mother so much better. Until my own children found their mates and started their own families, I couldn’t understand my Mom’s lonely look when we would leave her home and go to our own. Thank you for sharing your own thoughts.

    • Reply April 6, 2017 at 5:57 AM

      Sherry, thank you for your kind words. I never experienced what you described with my mom. She passed away when I was 7 months pregnant with Sarah. But after Sarah was born, we spent the first two weeks at my dad’s house. I will never forget the look on his face when we back down the drive way to head to our own home. My heart broke to see him looking so lost. I was inclined to tell Michael pull back up, let’s stay here.

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