Not to be confused with, “Let It Go”, made popular by the Disney movie, Frozen.
When Jacob’s brother was a senior in high school, I started getting all sentimental. That year, I read an article about letting go. A reminder that our children are, for the most part, under our influence their first 18 years or so. In short, it said, you’ve raised your child to be independent, now it is time to let them spread their wings and fly. If we’ve done our jobs right, they have learned to live ‘on their own’.
We watched Josh grow from a baby to a toddler to a teen to a young adult. ‘The days are long but the years are short‘ is so very true. It went by extremely fast!! Each step there were teaching moments to embrace and milestones to be celebrated. And all of a sudden, in what felt like ‘in the blink of an eye’, he’s a man. He has stayed true to the covenant commitment to his wife, is the founder of a successful business, and parents their three daughters. He’s been ‘out of the house’ longer than he was in. And I remember all the mixed emotions I felt while waving good-bye to my newlywed son as he and his bride drove 1200 miles to spread their wings. (Tomorrow is his birthday, perhaps that is another reason I am reminiscing.) Happy Birthday Josh!!!
From the time they were born, it was our job to teach them to not depend on us. To make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes. To reward honesty and selflessness.
We aimed to teach kindness and compassion. Diligence and determination. To be generous and grateful. To live by Proverbs 3:5-6. Those things would come in handy. Did I take advantage of those years?
We are different, were we up to the task? (I know, every family is different—thank goodness.) We got married. (Happy 42nd Anniversary to us.) Bought a house, got a dog, and had two children. And we set out to raise our little humans to be independent, productive members of society.
And it was easy and it was hard. Our two sons were/are opposites. One was stuck while the other moved forward. One met and/or achieved while the other struggled. Sometimes the ‘easy’ was with one and honestly, sometimes it was with the other.
With one, it seemed he was a toddler, crying at swimming lessons one day, and driving two states away to a summer job the next. With the other, he was a toddler and tween and teenager but the changes were blurred and some days we didn’t know which stage we were in. Jacob never really graduated from the toddler stage all the while dealing with teenage hormones. And I didn’t have to let go and watch him venture out far from his safe place with just the three of us.
There was an overwhelming sadness of letting go of Josh. Mixed with equal joy and confidence of knowing he could and would ‘make it on his own’. And in the same moment, I think about the different types of letting go I’ve faced with Jacob. Some hard. Some easy. No waiting up to be sure he made his curfew. Or helping with a college application. Or late night talks about life. I had to let go of control, in a sense, with Jacob’s school setting, day programs, and trusting sitters in our home. Those were minor compared to letting go of how I imagined our lives. The dreams of what he’d ‘be’ when he grew up.
In all this, I am thankful we were given different paths to walk with our sons. We haven’t missed out on a thing. Every family with more than one child gets the unique opportunity to parent each child as their temperament dictated. With Jacob, the days are long and, frankly, sometimes so are the years. But those years have kept us from experiencing the empty nest and I really love my nest the way God built it.
Next week: I Need You