I remember starting out on the motherhood journey – every stage was so new and different. I adored the kids as babies and loved watching them stroll through development to become more independent. With each new stage, I noted things they were interested in, things they were able to do on their own, things they were still trying to learn. When each of our children were young, we dedicated them to the Lord, recognizing that they were a gift from Him, and promising to raise them to know Jesus from an early age. We’ve seen them all make their own personal decisions to follow the Lord, and we’ve seen them learning and growing as they get older.
My youngest is now almost 7, my middle guy is 9, and my oldest son is 13, and I am again on the doorstep of a new stage in life. Lately my heart has been sitting with the fact that, at some point, we will let our kids go – whether it’s to start school, or to a week away at camp, or off to college and life someday. For a long time, age 18 would signify that year when official schooling of my oldest son would be complete, and he’d be off to continue his education with people who are able to teach him exactly what he wants to learn and do in life. That has always seemed so far into the future!
Our oldest was given a unique opportunity through the online charter school we use, because of his grades and achievement, to skip the 8th grade, so this year he will transition to the 9th grade with a small group of students who have also been afforded this same opportunity. What a wonderful next step for him! But why is this important? Because age 18, which had signified the end of his high school education and the transition to whatever life holds for him after high school (hopefully college!), has now become age 17. In the blink of an eye, we’ve gone from having 5 more years of schooling and at-home parenting ahead of us, to just 4 more years. That’s not to say he’s moving out when he’s 17 or anything like that, but the possibility for college that same year does exist. Thirteen years have already gone so quickly, and I know the next 4 years will pass before us faster than we can believe possible.
As my husband and I have been thinking ahead to letting him go, and even on smaller scales with our other children, some things come to mind –
*Have we prepared them well?
*Do they know all they need to know?
*Are they good, loving, kind-hearted people?
*Can they interact well with others?
*Will they make wise choices?
*Have we missed teaching them anything they need to know?
I’m also learning that we can never really know the answers to all these questions. Parenting is an exercise in faith and trust.
I almost feel that we’ve taught our oldest son all that we have to teach him. There are still years of schooling ahead, but the foundations are already in place. Everything he will learn from here through high school will be based on those foundations. (And honestly, neither of us will be teaching him any upper-level math; we will be learning with him!)
I feel now that we are beginning to prepare the man our son will become, to step into his role in life. We are pouring all we have and all we are, into who he is. We’ve stepped aside from trying to force who he will become, to allow God to step in and mold him (and us!) for who our son will be. We’re refining skills, rather than teaching skills. We’re helping him define his relationship with Jesus. We’re helping him find his place to serve in the church. We’re explaining the importance of decision making and the effect it can have on life.
And so, as we look ahead to raising the man our son is becoming, and to the time when we will be letting go, we are praying that we have instilled the right things into his heart and mind. We are praying that he will stay near to Jesus and grow in his love for, and knowledge of, God.
The best we can do – the very best – is
to give them to Jesus, and to give Jesus to them.