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Letting Go is Hard to Do

A few days ago, I took Autumn and Alexis ice skating with our homeschool group. Ice skating is one of the highlights of our year as a homeschooling family.  We eagerly anticipate its arrival each year.

After lacing up the girls’ skates they headed over to the ice where they began practicing their figure eights.  I glanced over and watched as one of the other moms laced up her son’s hockey skates.  A sense of nostalgia swept over me as I recalled a time when I, too, lovingly laced up my son’s skates.  Now he’s grown and on his own, and I’ll never lace his skates again.  I so miss that era in our lives and I miss him.  Where did the time go?

I have two sons, one is 19 years old and the other is 20.  (For the sake of anonymity I’ll refer to them by age and not by name; but you can get the low-down on them both over at My Family Page.  {If you tell them I sent you there I will deny it emphatically!})

The 19-year-old is actively serving in the United States Marine Core – OOH RAH!  He left our home for boot camp on February 23, 2014, at the tender age of 18, and life around our home has not been the same.

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Mom and Dad w/their new Marine!

Sadly, there is one less place to set at the table. One less person to tell me yet again that they don’t eat what I have cooked (the nerve!). One less bed for me to fuss over about it being unmade. One less person to ask me for a ride to the mall.  One less person to argue with about curfew. One less person.  (Boo Hoo.)

Growing up and leaving home is the natural order of things, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Three of my kids were born within a four year time span.

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Striking a pose at Jon’s graduation

The first two (my only boys) are called Irish twins because they were born less than 12 months apart. Then a girl (my Angel) followed two years later.  I had them so close together that people called them “steps” (short for stair steps), meaning, they looked like steps on a staircase (height-wise) when they stood next to each other.

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It was extremely hard coping with the frustration and the fatigue of raising them.  The days were labor intensive and the nights offered little reprieve.  I didn’t sleep for what seemed like years and finances were extremely tight.

During this season of parenting I spent a lot of time fantasizing about my children growing up and leaving home.  The older folks at my church told me that things wouldn’t always be so hard. I appreciated their concern but I didn’t believe them and to be honest, I grew really sick of hearing them tell me how fast they would grow-up.

Eventually, the Holy Spirit began to deal with my heart about having a proper appreciation for my children and enjoying my parenting journey.  It took years before joy overrode my misery, but eventually {I’m skipping a ton of testimony here} it did happen.

Well, now that they are older things really are better . . . and I find myself not wanting to “let go.”

The 20 year old, until recently, was still using the same sheet set he had since he was in middle school.  (They must be very good sheets because they are still in great condition.) It had animals and trucks and busses on it (so cute!) with a coordinating blanket and pillow sham.  (This is why I put him in the witness protection program by not divulging his name; if he read this he’d be, um, a bit cross.  But it’s my prerogative to embarrass my kids when I need to prove a point.  I brought this plaque which hangs prominently in my home so they know what my job in life is…)

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At least two years ago, he told me that he could no longer use the sheets; he said they were too juvenile, but I refused to replace them.  I love that sheet set!  They remind me of his youth: when he played soccer and I carpooled him and his friends and he wore superman tighty whities. (Don’t act like your’s didn’t, or don’t, or won’t.)  I don’t want to let them go.

I struggled emotionally, mentally, and financially while raising him during the superman time in his childhood, but now that he’s older and things are way better, those days now remind me of Camelot: an idyllic time in my past that was like a fairy tale (why do we always romanticize the past in our minds?), and I don’t want to let him grow up.

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My boys celebrating my 40th birthday

So, after I repeatedly ignored his request for a new sheet set, he recently came to me and surrendered his sheets!  He literally stripped his bed and handed them to me. (The nerve!) He’d rather sleep with no sheets (which he did for a while during our . . .um . . . standoff) than for me to force adolescence on him again.  Letting go is so hard!  (For the record, I’ve since replaced his sheet set, but I’m keeping them – you know, for when company comes . . . or for his kids.)  🙂

I not only want my kids to love me, I want my kids to need me.  But the truth is, as they grow up they need you less and less. Perhaps that’s the mark of a parent who’s done their job well? And letting go is part of the process.

At the ice skating rink, I reflected on the laces I was no longer tying, and I wished that I were still tying them. I wished that my Marine still needed me to tie them. For one weak moment, I wished that he was not off serving our country, but that he was still under my roof sitting at my dinner table.

I know it’s good that he left to pursue his dreams.  I know it’s good when kids stand up to totalitarian authority and surrender their bed sheets! . . . But letting go is hard to do.

Tiffiney

 What about you?  Do you find yourself holding on…or are you waiting to exhale?

 

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