The Hardest Thing About Being a Parent – Letting Go

When you first have children, everyone tells you that “they grow up so quickly,” and to enjoy the time. Holding a baby in your arms, after many sleepless nights and diaper changes,  you think to yourself, “Will this ever end?” And then somehow you find yourself sending your firstborn off to college, and those words come back to haunt you… “they grow up so quickly.”

My daughter, all grins in her new college life.
My daughter, all grins in her new college life.

It’s been a little over one month now since she left. Finally recovering from a crazy busy schedule over summer, routine has set in again and now I recognize it—the ache for my daughter. I love her with that mother’s love that would lay down gladly and give my life for her; so, when I walk past her empty bedroom, that love overwhelms me with memories, from the sweet preschool days to elementary school years to the challenging teens years of high school.

I remember how excited I was the day I found out I was pregnant and we’d be having a girl. I remember the frightening birth trauma when she came six weeks early, and how we almost lost her. I remember the radical choice I made to leave my career and my home state of California to raise her in the Midwest as a stay-at-home mom. More recent, I remember her high school graduation… how pretty and confident she looked.

Driving her to college, just a few hours from home, was a happy time for her. She has so much to look forward to, and so much to learn! I am thrilled for the opportunities and the places she’ll go, and the people she will meet along the way.

Yet that ache remains. It’s the ache of knowing those memories are precious because moments don’t last, and time races on in a flurry of activity and then… it’s gone. She’ll always be close to my heart, and we’ll have more memories to make as she reaches new milestones. But those “mommy and me” times together have passed; all I have left are memories, photos lovingly arranged in a scrapbook, and her empty room, where a few remaining childhood things are stored in boxes and displayed on shelves.

Being a good parent means that your goal is to get out of parenting, move your child along to being a capable adult who will contribute good things to society. This is what we’re supposed to do — give them a firm foundation on which to build.

Now I let go… release her to the world, pray that she makes wise choices and is safe in a challenging culture. Letting go of this precious girl who grew inside of me, grew alongside me and now grows on her own is the hardest act of love I’ve ever done. With God’s help, He’ll see me through these changes, and I can rest assured He never changes.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Heb. 13:8, (NIV).