A good friend of mine and I were talking about parenting and the process of gradually letting go as our kids gradually become more independent. It’s a delicate balance, an ever so slow shifting that starts when they’re born. My friend suggested the image of a tightly closed hand – that’s how it begins when they’re tiny, so vulnerable, so needy, so dependent. Through the years our hand loosens the grip as they start to learn about making choices, facing consequences, wanting to start leaning and then stepping away from us in growing confidence. They venture out, my “mom” hand keeps loosening and begins opening. When they’re ready to leave home my hand should be fully open, fingers outstretched. I extend that hand to my fledgling child in blessing and congratulations, “You’re ready and I’m proud of you. Go.”
I realize that my child needs me but in different ways and definitely different doses. Remembering how I thought and acted at that age has been helping me tremendously. I remember being so eager to get out and get away from home, not because I didn’t love my mom and dad, but I was tired of that routine and ready for something new. The new and unknown was exciting and full of possibility. I would be creating my own milestones, making decisions wise and foolish, having adventures, doing my own thing. No sister and brother to contend with, no parents to determine my curfew or how I spent my time. It was a heavenly time between being home with them and the pressures of real life that would follow college. Freedom!
God, keep this memory close to my heart when I start to feel sad or perplexed in this stage of life. I want to focus on the joy and promise my daughters face as they continue to grow and mature. I want to just pray for them, be here if they need me, but respect their space. I’m going to need constant surveillance from You and for you to keep me in line. I’m sure my girls will thank you! I spread my hands open wide trusting You to always hold them securely…please don’t YOU ever let go.
I’m still in your presence,
…you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
and then you bless me. Psalm 73:23-24 The Msg.