I’m a mother-in-law.
How and when this happened, I’m not so sure.
Well, actually. I totally know when it happened.
But how that happened? I’m still reeling from thinking about it.
My oldest daughter is married.
Wasn’t it just last week that I was changing her diaper?
It sure feels that way.
And in the wake of my baby-girl-turned-beautiful-bride…
I’m left asking myself questions.
Did I do a good job?
Did I tell her enough stuff?
Did I teach her enough practical skills?
Did I love her well?
After years of being in each other’s personal space for hours and hours on end…
Can I let her go?
I recall that during the high school years we had more than our fair share of “tiffs”. As a homeschooling mother to a teenage girl, I found that the estrogen level in our house was simply stifling at times. There were many times that yellow school bus passed by my front door and I threatened to put her on it.
She probably would have been glad to go.
But never the less, we stuck it out.
I stuck it out.
Cuz that’s what you do when you love.
But here’s what I’ve learned over the course of the last few years and in the last few weeks punctuated by the lovely wedding that just occurred.
You love them well… then you love them by letting them go.
The beautiful bane of parenthood is the progression that every one of us must eventually face.
You carry them in your womb or in your heart, loving them hard before you ever see their face. You hold them with one arm and walk with them on a swaying hip because they don’t want to be separated from you while you use your free arm to get other things done. You wipe their tears. You kiss their bumps and bruises. You are there at all of their “firsts” taking pictures cheering them on. You wake them up in the morning and tuck them in at night. You are aware of all the nooks and crannies of their days. You teach them about God and help them know what will please Him. You hope, you pray, and you cry out to God on their behalf and for their future.
And then… you gradually slow the acceleration of all that you have ever done on their behalf. While you still pray for them, you have taught them to pray for themselves. You no longer know about all the nooks and crannies because now they can talk to God without you. They have friends to go to and no longer need to run everything by you. You find that they wake up with the alarm on their phones and may tuck you in at night because they have to stay up way later than you to complete their own responsibilities. You may see pictures on their phones of people you do not recognize or events that you did not attend. They dust their own bumps and bruises and don’t always want you to see their tears. While they may still take your kiss they no longer hang on to your hand for dear life.
Loving your children as they grow and mature is learning how to release the very hands that you have practiced holding tight.
And it’s OK.
You’ve loved them well… and they’ve learned to walk on their own.
You’ve loved them well… and they have a life to live that extends beyond your walls.
You’ve loved them well… and loving them now means letting them go.
Never lose sight of the fact that when you are raising, rearing, and loving your children, you are loving them to let them go.
Never lose sight of the fact that when you are hugging, tucking, and praying for your children, you are loving them so that they are ready when it’s time for you to let them go.
Never lose sight of the fact that part of loving your children IS letting them go.
Love them well.
But always love them with the end in mind.
Love them enough to hold them close.
Then love them enough to let them go.
Chrystal Hurst, ChrystalEvansHurst.com