Letting go...the hardest part of motherhood.
When they hand you your sweet baby in the hospital, the last thing on your mind is letting go. In fact quite the opposite, you want to hold them just like this forever.
You successfully, but not without struggle, navigate the first 4 years of their life. Then the first time comes to let go...preschool. Up until now this little person has been your shadow, your constant companion. Oh how you dreamed for some time alone but now it's here and you don't want to let them go.
Or maybe you homeschool and the first time of letting go is a sleepover or a church activity.
Regardless of the scenario, I will confess letting go is nerve-racking. I honestly thought it would get easier as they got older but the closer they got to 18, the more anxious I became.
I asked myself questions like, did I do enough to prepare them? Was there something else I needed to teach them? Why didn't I talk about ____ more? Will they be able to survive in the real world?
When the actual time to let go came, I knew that I was still a mom but somehow it felt like I had lost my job. I wasn't a chauffeur, cook, or event coordinator anymore.
For 18 years I had been my child's everything. Letting go and fully surrendering control of my child seemed really scary.
I had to find peace in the midst of this new role of motherhood. I prayed and God helped me to see that trust was the path to true peace.
He led me to 1 Samuel 1:2-2:21. In this passage Hannah was praying for a baby and the Lord answered her prayers and gave her a baby boy, Samuel. During her prayers, she promised to give him back to the Lord after he was weaned. When the time came for him to be weaned she took him to Eli, the priest, and left him there to serve all of his days.
Oh how my mama heart breaks for her. This is the child she literally begged God for and she only got 3 short years with him.
However, 1 Samuel 2 tells us her prayer of thanksgiving. In this prayer, she is rejoicing in God's favor for giving her Samuel. At the end of chapter 2, we see that because of her faithfulness to the Lord she was blessed with more children.
As I read Hannah's story I saw three things that she did. I purposed myself to follow in Hannah's footsteps.
1. Thank God
Hannah dropped Samuel off with Eli at the temple. They only visited once a year to offer a sacrifice. She would get to see him again but it was only once a year.
Her song shows us though that she had peace in her heart because she knew she wasn't giving him to Eli, but to God.
When I dropped my son off at college (which is only 45 minutes away) I was so sad. I prayed as I left that God would guide him and protect him. I prayed for peace as I transitioned to this new life.
As peace settled in, I was able to offer thanks to God for giving my son such a great opportunity at a great university. I was able to thank God for giving my son a studious spirit that allowed him to be successful in high school and gave him scholarships that will help him financially through college.
2. Trust God
Hannah prayed for a child and believed that God would answer her prayers. She didn't offer the child back to God as a type of bribery, she offered him back as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Hannah trusted God with her answer to prayer. She trusted God to be the ultimate parent for Samuel. She knew that God was his creator and loved him more than she ever could.
As I prepared my son for college, I did a lot of praying to prepare my heart for the separation. Leaving my child in a strange city is seriously the biggest type of trust that I know. I had to put all of my trust is God to take care of him. My son really knew very little about the city and didn't have anyone to contact in case of an emergency. Trusting God was all that I knew to do.
3. Accept God's Plan
Hannah didn't resent God for accepting the dedication of her son to him for life. She went with her husband to the temple annually to offer their sacrifice. While she was there she presented Samuel with his hand sewn robe cut to his size. As they offered their sacrifice, Eli blessed them and asked God to bless them with children to replace the one that they dedicated to God.
Hannah accepted God's plan for her life. She didn't resent it or bemoan the fact that she couldn't have all of her children together. She willingly continued to praise God regardless of where her son was.
The days following my son's start to his college career were hard for him. There were a lot of papers to fill out and a lot of new things to navigate as well as a new life to juggle. He was stressed and because he was an adult I couldn't do anything to help him navigate college life. All I could do was pray and ask God to help him. As a mom it hurts your heart to hear your baby stressed and not be able to help. But I had to accept God's plan to stretch him.
By letting go we give God room to help them grow.
My son comes home once a month, I cook all of his favorites, help him do his laundry and we talk and watch movies. He's actually starting his third year this fall and I'm proud to say he has survived. He has made decisions and navigated college like a beast. I am so proud of him.
Mama letting go is hard, but you've prepared them for this. Let your bird fly and put your trust in God to guide them.
I'm praying for you!