From the day your children are born, you begin the letting go.
You, who miraculously sheltered them inside of your own body for nine months, suddenly must hand your tightly swaddled wonders over to visitors, to grandparents, to doctors and nurses. Your heart feels like it could shatter just to look into a tiny face that is at once so foreign and so familiar.
You live difficult and long and exhausting nights, sitting alone in the dark with a restless squirmer in your arms, wondering how it could be that you are a mama, that you are the one who is supposed to figure this out, that you have been entrusted with the awesome, terrifying task of training this child in the way she should go. In one long, draining night you drift between wanting to shove the baby in her father’s arms and wanting to cling to her desperately, willing yourself to remember exactly how little she feels laid there on your shoulder in the peaceful, lonely silence of three in the morning.
You are so tired.
And then children grow. With every new milestone you are forced to let go just a little bit more. Crawlers become walkers who become runners, and crying drop offs turn into casual waves goodbye. Soon you are standing at a kindergarten door, watching your child’s eyes, wide with excitement, and you see he is convinced that his life is finally beginning.
More and more, you are driven to your knees, finding yourself begging the God of the Universe to stay close, to hold your children in His perfect hands, to hover when you can’t. You learn how weak you really are. How anxious. How much is out of your control. You learn to trust Jesus more. You learn to wrestle with the what ifs, and you ask again and again for the gift of more faith, praying that if in the end all you really have is Jesus, that will be enough.
Meanwhile, every day they come home. Every day they grow more and learn more and become more of who they were created to be. And, you just keep white knuckling every new step along the path to their growing up. Somehow, every move shows you more about God’s love and care. Each inch forward helps you relax your grip on your children and tighten your grip on your Savior.
And, maybe that is the real gift of motherhood. In all of the letting go, there is the desperate need to hold on. To cling to Christ and admit that He is the only unchanging thing. The only constant. In a life of never-ending change, in a life of unspeakable joy and inevitable heartbreak, in a life that is as much wrapped up in your children as it is yourself, you are pushed toward the admission that all of it is really about Jesus. And that’s how you let go when you have to. That’s how you allow your children to be who they are. That’s how you survive every phase and every exhaustion and every worry.
From the day your children are born, you begin letting go. And you learn to hold on. Jesus never moves, never changes, never disappoints. These are the things you learn when you’re a mother.
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