Life goes by very quickly and when it comes to our children this seems to be particularly true. One minute we are choking back tears as we relinquish our precious offspring into the care of “big school” on their first day of Kindergarten. And then, in what seems like a blink of an eye, we find ourselves tearfully applauding them as they graduate high school and move into their future beyond school.
I find myself in a reflective mood this week as my only daughter and youngest child Courtney, officially moved out of our family home leaving my husband and I to quietly slip into the realm of “empty-nesters”. Although Courtney has lived out of home on and off for the last four years while she studied at university, it was comforting to know that she would be home for a night or two during the week and was almost always with us on the weekends. That has now changed and I can no longer rely on the regularity of her charismatic presence in our home.
As a loving parent I faithfully prayed that both my children would grow up to be strong and independent adults having developed the skills and emotional intelligence to excel in their chosen professions and contribute positively in society. Yet when the time came for me to release them into the world I found myself reluctant to let them go. Not because I was unhappy about the path that their lives had taken but for my own selfish reasons – I realised that my husband and I were no longer an everyday necessity in their lives. While I wanted to hang on to them for just that little bit longer, in my heart I knew it was right to let go.
As we move through different stages in our lives it is not unusual to experience some pain and feelings of loss during the transition – especially when that change relates to our children. Each year I see the joy and excitement on the faces of many of our students as they transition through school, whether it be from Prep to Kindergarten, Junior School to Middle School and others who are moving on to Senior College. Equally so, I witness the often well concealed apprehension and anxiety of their parents as they bravely let go just a little more and allow their children to experience increasing levels of independence.
One of my favourite passages of scripture talks about this concept of letting go. In Hebrews 12:1 we read “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let go of the things that slow us down … And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” This passage reminds me as a parent that if I want my children to truly run their race in life they need to do so unencumbered. That means making sure I am not one of the “things” that slows them down by hanging on too tightly. Instead I see myself as an integral part of that huge cloud of witnesses continually cheering them on, as they live the life that God has set before them.