So many milestones and so many emotions. Most of us remember the first day we watched our sweet 5 year old climb the stairs of the bus to head off to Kindergarten. I don’t know about you but I was a little teary eyed. The worst one was my youngest. He was excited and I was feeling a little lonely. But after a bit, wow I actually got some things accomplished! Then I remember sending my oldest to college – her graduation was a time of rejoicing for all of us. She struggled all through high school and that diploma was a huge victory for her~ but college, well that was hard. I didn’t sleep much for the first week. Then, I discovered a whole host of positives and started to enjoy her journey with her. Sending my son on a mission was easy. I missed him but I knew exactly what he was going to experience and I loved every minute of that journey. Watching him come home early was the hard part. Experiencing the struggle he has had the past four months has been heart wrenching so you’d think that last Sunday when I put him on a plane for South Carolina that I would be rejoicing in the fact that he is embarking on a new journey of self discovery. I think I cried more that weekend than any other time I have had to watch a child go, and yet now, once again, i can see positives for him and for our family.
As a parent, we have to experience many types of letting go. Some, like the ones I mentioned, are obvious. Graduations, wedding, missions, college, work….all are part of our children’s growing up processes. They are milestones in their lives that signify that maybe as a parent, we have done something right. Yet how often do we second guess ourselves during these milestones? Have I taught them everything they need to know? Have I helped them gain the confidence they will need to succeed? Do they know the value of hard work? Will they make the right choices once they are out of my sphere of influence? Will they remember the things they have been taught? Is the world ready for my child? All we can tell ourselves is that we did our best. And really, the most important question that we need to ask is, Do they know that I love them, no matter what?
There are so many types of letting go that we do as parents besides the physical. We have to let go of anger, of fear, of our own personal dreams, of financial stability and a host of other things. But we have chosen to do that willingly because we love being mothers and fathers.
This is going to get a bit personal, but this last week was Easter. As I have thought about watching my son leave and how much it hurt, my thoughts kept returning to my Father in Heaven and how He had to watch His children leave to come to earth. My children, as I send them off, remember me. They hopefully know that i love them and that I am constantly here for them. His children came to earth with absolutely no memory of Him, or the life they lived before. They (we) are taught by earthly parents and guided by a conscience (which we refer to as the light of Christ) or by the Holy Ghost. His children have to learn of Him through teachings and then through faith. They don’t get to go home for Christmas. They don’t get the comfort of a hug when things go bad. They don’t have the ability to talk with Him face to face, instead have to learn to pray and how to understand how the Spirit communicates with them. A long, drawn out process that can take years. I can’t even imagine how He does it. How He has let us go so perfectly and how patiently He waits for us to come to Him.
Then, on top of all of this, there is Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother. As I watched my son leave, I knew he would have difficult times. I knew he would struggle. There would be moments he would want to give up. i also knew that I am just a phone call away. That whatever he deals with, i am going to be there. I also knew that he would have to walk some of this journey alone in order to grow. I know that is exactly what Heavenly Father knows about us, but when I think about Gethsemane and the cross at Golgotha, it takes my breath away. As a father, it must have been beyond words to watch the suffering His son went through in Gethsemane. I imagine He sent angels to be with the Savior because He couldn’t be there. Then as Christ hung on the cross, can you imagine how painful it must have been for Heavenly Father to leave Jesus to suffer alone. So much so that he cried out to the Father and asked why He had forsaken him. It was necessary but I don’t know if I could have done it. Kind of gave a whole new perspective to the letting go process to me. I am grateful for the examples of my Father in Heaven and my Heavenly Mother (if you aren’t LDS – ask me about what we believe about her). They show me every day the kind of parent I know I need to be.
I guess that what I want to end up saying is that letting go isn’t such a bad thing, even though it is hard. I know the day my son flies home from South Carolina, I am going to see why it was so important to let him go. And isn’t that what letting go is all about, welcoming them home again?! I know to the Father it is.