I just realized my last post was about letting go....of STUFF. If it got you jazzed up to purge some junk...you go girl! (Or boy!) Doesn't it feel good!
Today's writing probably comes with a more narrow audience. I realize I'm somewhat of a rare bird on this issue of letting kids go places and trying new things.
You see, Mike and I have always disagreed on letting our kids do things like going away to camp or sleepovers or ballgames, pretty much anything where they are invited to be away from me. With a few exceptions, he always says, "Yes, let them go. It will be a great experience for them." And I always say something like, "But what if something happens to them while they are away?" My mind instantly gets flooded with every worst case scenario fear. Fear can come over me like a flood. It can consume my every thought. It is a feeling of "I need to be in control. I need to make the right decision. The wrong decision could lead to a life I couldn't handle." It's losing all sight of WHO really is in control, and trying to handle the world on my own.
And then there is my own selfishness. If they are out of my sight, I'll be worried about them, and I don't want to have to spend my time being worried. The easiest option for me usually just feels like saying NO and keeping everyone right under my nose. I can get way too focused on ME and not nearly enough focused on what is best for THEM.
Thankfully, I married my opposite, otherwise our poor kids would be trapped within the bubble of our home, not getting to spread their wings and fly for my own sense of false security and selfishness.
Over the weekend, Lilly's friend invited her to her grandparent's lake house. She is eleven. They were going to be boating, kayaking, driving a long distance, etc. etc. While it would have been easy to just say NO, I knew I needed to let her go. I knew she'd have the time of her life on the water, tubing and skiing, getting to experience something she'd never done before, a lake house adventure. She's not one to get homesick, like I always was at her age, so I knew she'd be fine. Mike was all in. She was all in. "You have GOT to let me do this!" she said, and I knew I needed to set my own fears aside and let her go.
On Saturday morning I helped her pack her bags. We sat on the edge of her bed and prayed together for God's safety as she traveled. We talked about being wise. (Fear is sometimes healthy when it keeps you from doing things you shouldn't do.) Using her manners. And staying close to her friend's momma at all times. I let her take her iPod so that she could text me while she was away.
I told her how happy I was for her and how blessed she's been with the sweetest friends who will take her along on adventures like this.
Not long ago, when I was explaining to my friend about my fears of letting them go, she told me about how she used to do same thing, but regretted it. About how living in fear was a waste of time. About how our fears added a burden to our kiddos that took away from their own life experiences. Do you really want your kids to spend their time away from you worried about you being sad without them, or do you want them to fly off and be able to fully enjoy what they are getting to experience? (That stung a bit, but GOODNESS that is SO true!) We should be so cautious and mindful about burdening our kids with our own anxiety and fear.
So when Lilly text me throughout the weekend, I didn't tell her that I was sad that she was away. And to be honest, I really was not! We were busy with our own friends and events and I wasn't sitting at home dwelling on her absence. When I thought of her and the fun that she was having, I couldn't help but just be happy for her. Thankful that she has friends who want to take her places and for their parents who are happy to add an extra kiddo to the load.
My text to her said, "I'm so happy for you!" "Looks like you're having a blast!" "Send me more pictures!" and "I love you so much!" I wanted her to feel so good about her experience and not worry about me back at home.
If you are mom to littles, sure, you have to trust your gut. There are plenty of good reasons and times to say "NO." Healthy fear is a good thing! Mike and I say no to plenty of things daily for all kinds of reasons. But don't let your own fear and selfishness keep you from letting your kids fly a bit. If your goal is raising confident, strong, independent people, you've gotta let them go. Even with baby steps. Not with a tight grip and full of fear that ruins their experience, but with a joyful heart. It isn't easy the first time around, but it really does get easier with practice, and when you are focused on the right thing.
*** I wrote this several weeks ago. Life got too chaotic and many events surrounding us made it too hard to share. Last week I let her go to camp for a week. I didn't lose any sleep. I didn't fret or worry. I knew she was where she needed to be. And Mike reminded me that I need to get back to writing again, so here I am, debating on whether or not to share this. (Clearly, I still have plenty of other FEAR issues!)
I'm trying to grasp the fact the the same God who made them loves them just as much as me. More, even! Rather than just focusing on keeping them safe at home, I'm trying to reshift my thinking to focus on giving them a life that is full and focused on Loving others well. I cannot help but think of the parable of the Bags of Gold. The Master was mad at the servant who was afraid and took the Gold and hid it underground. (Read the full story in Matthew Chapter 25) As Mommas, what treasures have we been given? Is one of our bags of "gold" our children? I would say in my case, it definitely is. Am I going to release them to make more disciples, "bags of gold" or am I going to keep them at home under a false sense of safe security?
How often have I tried to do that with my own kiddos? Just recently Mike and I were out of town and my mom asked me if she could drive our four kids back to our hometown. My instant response was fear. "What if something happens?" I changed my mind when I thought about how they could be a light in that situation, and told her that she could take them, but fear is something that I will always have to work through. It is surely the work of Satan trying to keep our lights hidden away.
I have to remember who they really belong to.
I have to remember what they are here to do.
I have to remember it is not my job to keep them tucked safely away at home, but to let them go out into world to shine their lights wherever they go and spread love and joy to the world around them.
*If you know someone who suffers from this same sense of fear, please share. I have sat with so many groups of women who DO NOT have this same issue. Thankfully, they, along with Mike, have encouraged me to release my tight grip in a loving way. It has changed my perspective about how I mother my babies and has been such a gift to them to be able to go places and truly enjoy what they are doing while they are away.