As much as I want it too, time doesn’t stand still. In fact as we age I’ve found that it actually seems to move at a faster pace. Kids grow up, graduate from college, leave the nest, and settle into a new life as they seek independence and start a career or family.
Whether our children choose to live nearby, across the state, or across the country, we will be faced with challenges to our parenting and our ability to let go.
It’s a timeless lesson in love and sacrifice.
My older son graduated from college a few years ago and, because of a lucrative job offer, immediately moved out of state. There was no time for transition between the two major milestones.
It was a crazy time for my husband and me as parents. We experienced the pride of his graduation and excitement for his new life. We packed up all of his belongings and settled him into his new apartment. Then we had to face the tearful goodbyes.
Those first few months were pretty rough on all of us. Our son expressed his dissatisfaction with being so far away from his friends and family. It was hard for him at work—starting over as the low man on the totem pole and learning the technical aspects of his job and the organizational culture. I think if he hadn’t been bound by a two-year employment contract, he would’ve seriously considered moving back home.
He recently made an expected visit to our area, and surprised his father on his birthday. I don’t think he realized what a gift that was to our family—away from the normal holiday rush that soon awaits us. For that one day it felt as if he had never left home—like one of his visits home from college.
In our short time together, I was struck with his maturity and the dramatic change in his demeanor. He said someone at work told him that the first six months on the job would be the worst. Well, he survived that and is now applying for a one-year assignment in another country. That’s quite a shift for someone who had a hard time looking beyond his present circumstances as a new employee.
As we talked about his life in his new home state, I also noticed his maturity in other ways. He was making adult decisions, making new friends, learning more about himself, his likes and dislikes.
Then it hit me. Our letting go had given him a chance to find his own way. Letting go had been a process. In occasional conversations during this time, his father and I had offered our encouragement and support. We came to trust our son to make his own decisions and for God to guide him (and us) along the way.
We sacrifice for our children in so many ways when they are young—our time, commitment, and finances. We pour our love and our hearts into them, hoping and praying that they will become wise and godly stewards of their time and talents.
Through it all, I know this to be true: they grow up way too fast, but letting go always reaps a harvest in some unexpected way.
In parenting our children and preparing them for adulthood, we can be grateful for these unexpected blessings from Above.
What lesson have you learned in letting go of your children?
~ Ardis A. Nelson