Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lessons In Letting Go

Tuesday afternoon, I watched my baby boy pack up a back-pack full of clothes, equipment and bedding, and load it in his car. He drove down to his college campus, 1 1/2 hours away, and spent the night. Early Wednesday morning, he got on a bus with nearly 60 other incoming Freshmen...and headed to East Tennessee for a week of outdoor adventures.

And me? I miss him already.

It just got me thinking of how, really, I've spent my whole life learning to let him go.

When he was a baby, there came a point when he no longer needed me to feed him. He chose a cup, and food he could eat with a spoon, over the nourishment I'd been providing for over a year. I let him go.

And there came a time when he didn't want me to carry him everywhere...he wanted to walk...I let him go. Oh, I kept a hand on him, especially in parking lots and crossing the street...but even that came to an end as he grew up and became more aware and responsible.

When he had cancer, I took care of him. I monitored every fever...every tummy ache. I watched everything he ate. I held him close and rocked him day or night. I pretty much did whatever would get a smile out of him...we all did...for over 4 months.

When his chemo was over, and the test results showed it had done what it was supposed to do...even tho I didn't want to...I let him go. I let him go from the grip I'd had on him. I let him go...and I let him grow. I let him fall down. I let him try and fail, and try and make it.

I let him be a little boy.

And it was so hard...because I really wanted to hover. Or maybe I wanted to smother. Whatever. Same thing, right? :)

And, seriously, under the circumstances...who could blame me?

When he learned to ride a bike, I held on, or Jim did, until he didn't need me anymore...and then I let him go, and let him ride by himself. Truth be told, I probably held on a little longer to this one...just because.

And after years of me driving him everywhere...or him going everywhere we went WHEN we went...he now drives us. Sometimes. And he makes his own decisions on where he goes and what time he leaves.

I'm sure you can think of as many examples as I can.

This parenting's a process of holding on and letting go...and of knowing WHEN to do each one.

It's like the whole riding-the-bike thing. Some kids just take to it right away...some have to work hard at it...some are more cautious, and don't mind taking longer...and, some never quite get the hang of it. In my 4 kids, I've got them from one end of ability to the other.

And with each one, we've held on...and we've let go...when it was time.

We know it's what we've been gearing up for for his whole life. This is what has to happen, in order for kids to become adults. In most cases, anyway. We have Joshua, and at the ripe, ol' age of 29, he is most definitely an adult. He is also, at the ripe, ol' age of 29, most definitely a child.

We walk the line.

But this moving-away-from-home-and-going-to-college's a rite of passage, for the ones who are able and willing. Clark is able, and he is willing...and he is WANTING to go. August 20, when we move him down to college...and let him go and leave him there...will be a hard, hard day.

We know it...and he knows it. We've been down this road before: first with his sister, and then with his brother...and now it's his turn.

Yes, it will be hard...but we will do it. This letting go doesn't come naturally to me at ALL. But it's what we've been leading up to...for his whole life.

"My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction." Proverbs 6:20

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