Letting go of the life we always wanted. Letting go of the people we love. Letting go of expectations or desires. It’s one of the hardest things to go through.
My first child is going to kindergarten today.
This struggle is different than others. It’s not caused by anxiety of the unknown – as many struggles are, but rather the heartbreak of losing my child little-by-little. A part of my heart will be walking around at school.
I’m grieving. Grief is a normal response to losing someone or something.
I was forced to let go of my dad sixteen months ago as he took his final breath and the emotions feel awfully familiar as I watch my oldest go off to school. Though losing my son to school is not the same as losing my dad to death, it’s still a loss; and it still hurts the heart. I have been with my son nearly every day for six years and school will rob me of that. (That’s one of the reasons I wanted to homeschool. It’s selfish, I know.)
I keep crying: “he’s not ready! he’s not ready!” But, really, it’s me who’s not ready! Yesterday I gave birth to him and today he’s going to school. Time is just slipping by. I will miss him terribly!
I didn’t want to send my son to school – I had always planned to homeschool, but in May God led me to send him. God knew I wasn’t ready last year, even though my son would’ve been. The school year would’ve started just four months after burying my dad; I couldn’t even imagine struggling through both so soon! Though the grief regarding my dad’s death is less raw now, this causes me to sink back into an overall sadness. I can’t share the exciting news with him – how God led me to this point. He can’t watch as his grandson grows up. The things he’s missing…
My son is standing on the horizon of his future. The doors to the rest of his life have just abruptly swung wide open and he’s about to take his very first step into the big, scary world. How terrifying for me – how exciting for him! This is the natural progression of life; however, I will not be there to protect him, to help him, to deflect situations or to answer his questions.
This is the beginning of him figuring it out on his own.
Understandably, we are scared to hand our children the wide-open world and allow them to run into it; however, as much as we want to hold them close, we aren’t raising our children to be dependent on us, but to live a life on their own. We are not meant to alter our child’s world so it always pleases and satisfies them and never hurts or disappoints, but to battle-ready them to stand firm, brave and selfless in a mean, selfish and godless world.
Babies love to be read to, but they cannot read on their own. They depend solely on their parents to read and interpret the text. But soon they are taught how to read and they begin to understand the text for themselves. And, so it is with life. You cannot throw a baby out into the world and expect them to understand life and make great decisions. They need years by your side as you impart your moral values and wisdom. And little-by-little they are to be prepared for the wonderful, yet harsh, world.
We would love to shelter our children from the world’s harshness, but should we?
Should we take the bully out of school or teach our children how to handle him or her in a loving and respectful way – in a way that could tremendously impact the bully? After all, our child’s identity comes not from people, but from the One who created them. Should we ensure all things go as our child wants or teach them to be flexible and patient? The world does not revolve around them. Should we allow a disregard for authority or to be submissive and teachable? We are all learning and they’ll always be authority over us. Should we give them everything they want or teach them to be thankful for what they do have? They must work for what they want; it should not be handed to them. Should we teach them to love themselves first or teach them that others matter more?
We do not change the world for them; we teach them how to be the change the world needs.
There is no solution for the heartbreak on this day as my son heads off to kindergarten, but there is still hope. We will adjust to this new adventure and the God of comfort is always by my side. (And my son will do fine.)