“Do you want to do drop-off today?” I glanced at my daughter’s face in the rear-view mirror. She scrunched her freckled nose, leaned back into her car seat and cracked a sly smile.
“Sure. I’m strong enough now.”
“Really?” My eyebrows shot up.
“Yep. I can do it.”
“Okay.” I veered to the school carpool line and shifted into park. My daughter unbuckled her seatbelt and stood up to go. I twisted toward the back seat, doubting her confidence.
Most days, I walk her into the building. She complains the door is too heavy; the middle school kids are too tall and intimidating; she wants one final kiss on the hand, one last hug before the bell rings. She craves my presence. My protection.
But this day, she chose courage.
“Do you have your backpack?”
“If nobody holds the door open for you, I’ll park the van in the parking lot and run to help. Okay?”
“Okay, Mom. Bye.”
“Wait—give me a kiss!” I squeezed her shoulders and planted a peck on her cheek. “I love you. Have a great day at school.”
“I will, Mom. Bye!”
My eyes followed as she ran to the double glass doors, paused for just a second to wave back at me, then grabbed the handle and yanked hard, disappearing inside the building for the best hours of her day.
And my heart sank to my stomach.
Why doesn’t it get any easier? This wasn’t the first day of school, for crying out loud. It was one of the last. Summer break begins next week. And still, after nearly an entire academic year, I struggle to relinquish my precious girl to teachers and hot lunch and recess chatter.
I want to be with her. To know she’s happy and safe and well cared for. But she blossomed this year into a confident schoolgirl who jumps rope and reads chapter books and can suddenly open the door just fine on her own, thankyouverymuch.
So it’s time for me to start letting go.
Because the less she leans on me, the more she’ll need to lean on God.
And that is the ultimate goal of my parenting.
“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe,” (Proverbs 28:26).
I’m not raising my kids to be independent. Quite the opposite, I want them to be increasingly dependent—on God. Don’t you? By giving our children room to grow and stumble, we set the example that Mom depends on God first—to take care of them.
It’s not easy.
In the beginning of the school year, my daughter cried every day at lunch for two weeks because she missed me. Worse, she didn’t tell me about it, thinking I’d be disappointed in her. When a teacher finally clued me in, my aching mommy heart wanted to yank my baby out of school and spend September indulging her with chocolate ice cream cones in the safety of our fenced back yard.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I prayed. I prayed for her courage. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for God to wrap his arms around her when I could not.
Then on the drive to school one day in early fall, my daughter sang her favorite Sunday school song. “Be strong! Joshua 1:9! Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“Sweetheart, that’s it!” I shouted from the driver’s seat. “You can sing that song to yourself when you’re walking to lunch. For the Lord your God is with you—even in the cafeteria!”
“Yeah!” Her eyes grew wide and she smiled. That afternoon, when she boarded our van at pick-up time, my soul rejoiced to hear these beautiful words: “It worked, Mom! I didn’t cry! God helped me be brave!”
And now here she is, nine months later, shrugging off her ol’ lady because she can do this kindergarten thing just fine. And I’m grateful.
Not because she doesn’t need me.
But because she’s learning where her real strength lies.
If this post encouraged you, please pass it on. You might also like When You Wish They’d Stay Little Forever, Nobody Loves Her Like I Do, and Kindergarten Is Not a Big, Green, Ugly Monster.
Linking up with: The Better Mom, Playdates With God, The Mom Initiative, Momma Notes, Titus 2sdays, Grace at Home, Wedded Wednesday, Women Living Well and Things I Can’t Say.
Love it. These are the things that are so recognizable for mothers worldwide. You have such a beautiful text from the Book of Joshua in your blog! That makes me happy and consoled. Thanks!
And just today my daughter reminded me of that verse in Joshua… when I mentioned I was discouraged about how she and her little sister were bickering. “But Mom, remember Joshua 1:9? God says, do not be discouraged!” 🙂
Amy M. says
The crying everyday at lunch was my daughter 9 years ago. When I learned that this occurred each day, I pictured her … and it felt as if I had let her out at the door of a crowded restaurant where she knew no one, to look for a place to sit among strangers to eat her lunch (from the cute Nemo lunchbox), all the while feeling uncomfortable and lonely. I still get a little misty at the thought!
Kindergarten is the biggest year of growth for a child, at a very tender age. We do “let them loose” among strangers, among kids we wouldn’t choose for them to play with because they’re too much older and worldly-wise, among children who might lead them into temptation, among kids who call them “baby” for crying when they miss their moms and the comfort of home.
But you’re right. The Lord our God is with them, wherever they go, and he’s right here with us, whenever we send them into unknown territory and wait for a report on their daily mission.
In four years, I’ll send my girl to college, and another round of ripping out my heart will occur. I know God will take care of us both, but my mind will return to those early days of Kindergarten when I couldn’t be with her — but our God was, and always will be.
Amy, thank you for these words and for sharing that I am not alone. You understand well what’s on my heart… and I know I’ll blink and be where you are, looking down the road to college and wondering where my little girls are. Today my kindergartener asked me when the first day of next school year is. I told her I didn’t know and I couldn’t think about that yet! Let’s enjoy our summer first! Blessings to you and your family today, Amy!
Oh, yes, dear friend— God-dependent children, that’s the dream and the goal in this every day exercise in letting go, praying hard, and clinging to Him as our kids stop clinging to us. My littlest boy is wrapping up his kindergarten year and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that he’s not in diapers. And it’s not like he’s my first one to launch into the elementary school years. Next fall, Littlest sister starts preschool, middle child heads to intermediate school, big girl goes to jr high, and my firstborn begins high school. Just cut off my hands now so I’m not tempted to hold on! Love your wisdom. Every. Time. here.
Aack, yes, cut off my hands! 🙂 Well, at least tie them loosely behind my back with a nice little slip knot. Love hearing from you, Alicia. Your real mom experiences always encourage me with a spirit of solidarity. Hugs!
Oh my gosh, I needed to read this soooo much today. For the last few weeks I’ve been dropping my 4 year old off at nursery school and he has cried and hung on for dear life daily. Breaking my heart in the process, since I know I need to leave him there so he can learn he can make it on his own. As I walk home, I lament over this separation anxiety that has suddenly needled its way into his being. But what I haven’t been doing is praying enough about it. Thank you for this. Found you from the ‘pour your heart out’ link up, and I’m so glad I did. I will now be a new follower.
Thank you for joining me here, Jenny. I can definitely relate to what you’re going through. Hugs from my household to yours!
Oh, it’s doesn’t get easier does it? My son is in Kindergarten this year and parents walk their kindergartener to their class in the morning. All other students have to walk in by themselves. So, in preparation for next year, we’ve been practicing. I don’t know what it is about them braving the school by themselves and walking through those doors that breaks my heart. It’s hard not to hold on. Beautiful post.
Hard, yes. That’s how I think of it, too – my daughter has to “brave the school by herself,” you said it perfectly. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to summer break!
NJ @ A Cookie Before Dinner says
It can be so hard I think, to let them grow a bit. I don’t want to raise an independent kid either, but rather an interdependant one who seeks the wisdom of his elders and the heart of God. I’m stopping by today from Pour Your Heart Out.
Thanks for stopping by from Shell’s place!
You always come up with these great titles that hook me in every time! And the way you spun this story around to dependence in the Lord is pure perfection–because, after all, dependence in God is where our hearts grow BIG and strong! I know I say this every week, but you are such an amazing mom, Becky. I suppose that’s because you are living “dependent” upon Him as well. Thanks for shining His light here in this place and all over your corner of the world, sweet friend!
Thank you so much for sticking with me here, Beth. It means a lot to me to hear from you each week!
I remember a sermon at church from a few years ago that said that parenting is like a funnel- you start out holding on tight and close(imagine holding the bottom of a funnel) and then have to gradually loosen our hold as they get older(hands moving up the funnel).
Ooo, good visual, Shell.
Oh my goodness — such wisdom! It’s clear that you have His heart for your children.
“By giving our children room to grow and stumble, we set the example that Mom depends on God first—to take care of them.”
Love that! (Visiting from Wedded Wednesday today)
Thanks for visiting, Laura! It’s always good to hear from other Messy Marriage fans.
Maureen Hitipeuw says
Oh my God, this post got me teary eyed. Perfect timing too as my boy will start first grade in July and I am so worried about how he will cope with going to the ‘big school’. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.
He will grow beautifully. You’re not alone, Maureen!
Thanks bunches for linking up and helping to encourage so many moms.
Be blessed bunches,
Thanks for reading, Sarah!
Richella Parham says
Wonderful, wonderful post. I pinned this to my “Parenting” board!!