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LETTING GO*

It is one of the hardest things mothers, yes, parents, have to do – let go of their children. After all, we are the ones who carried them for nine months, rocked them to sleep, who saw them get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten, excited and nervous at the same time. We are the ones who went to every concert, every game, and every activity. We taught them manners and we demonstrated our values, beliefs and morals, hoping and praying they would accept them as their own. Mothers have been known to empty the piggy bank, look under the cushions of the sofas and even conduct a scavenger hunt through the house looking for change to donate to the “prom dress fund.” We cried with our daughter over the breakup of her first love. We held our breath as our son raced down the football field as a bunch of guys from the opposing team tried with all their might to stop him.

And then comes….The Day. We watched as our sons and daughters walked down the aisle to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” to receive a piece of paper that signifies the end of one era and the beginning of another. And before we know it, summer has passed, their bags and car are crammed to the brim with almost all of their worldly possessions and they leave for college, excited and nervous at the same time. (It seems as if it was only last month when they left for kindergarten.) And we let them go, not just physically, but also emotionally. Or at least we should. Frankly, we should have been letting them go gradually throughout the years. But letting go, especially during their teen years is so hard: “Am I letting them go too soon?” or “Am I doing the right thing?” we think to ourselves. But we must let our children go and there is a right way and a right time to do it.

I learned this lesson the hard way. My daughter is 30 and my son is 25. I raised them as a single mom from the time they were 12 and 7 because their dad left. I share this, not as an appeal for pity, but so you will have some insight into the decisions I made when raising them.

It is an entirely different scenario to raise children as a single parent. You realize that you alone are responsible for the lives of your children. It is a frightening prospect especially in this day and age. As a single mother, I made some good decisions but I made a lot of mistakes too. It is my hope that you will learn from my mistakes as you read further.

In some areas I was lenient with my children (I’m sure they would disagree!) and in some areas I was very strict. I know I wasn’t always consistent in my discipline. But the biggest mistake I made was not letting go emotionally of my children.

I really believed I had let go until a few weeks ago when my husband (their stepdad) pointed out to me that I was interfering – meddling – in their lives. I was shocked beyond speech! Me? Meddling?? Never! Ah, but alas, indeed I was. What I had said or asked my kids over the last few years had been out of my love and concern for them, or so I thought. It was not in my mind each morning when I woke up to think, “How can I meddle in my children’s lives today?” But the advice with which I had freely showered them had never been requested by them. After several days of thinking upon what my husband had said, I realized he was right. A light bulb moment!! I prayed about this, asking God to forgive me and to give me an opportunity to talk to both of my children so that I could apologize to them.

A couple of weeks later my son was home from New Orleans where he is stationed. He and my daughter were in the kitchen and no one else was around. God spoke and said, “Now is the time.” So I went and sat down with them and apologized. I explained that I had not realized I had been interfering in their lives, but I knew it now and would try my best never to interfere again. They were so gracious and both of them – grinning from ear to ear – told me they accepted my apology even though there was no need to apologize. “After all,” they said, “you were just being a mom.” Hugs and kisses all around!

Have I been completely successful in staying out of my adult children’s lives? No. But I’ve made great strides in not interfering. There have been times when I’ve asked one or the other about a particular situation, but hopefully, they know that it is because I am concerned and I do love them. What they may not know is that there have been many times when I’ve wanted to ask them about a particular situation, but I’ve kept that question to myself. And I pray daily that God will lead, guide and protect them.

Enjoy your children while they are with you. But remember to let them go when it’s time.

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