Dear Heather, who launched your oldest off to kindergarten this fall, and Kirsten, who moved your oldest into his freshman dorm room,
Although living at opposite ends of the mothering continuum, you are both experiencing unsettling emotions as you launch your children into new challenges. Your mother-child bond, deeply loving and fiercely protective, brings up bittersweet feelings even as you recognize the importance of your child’s developmental milestones. Different launches, but similar poignant aches.
Heather, you have prepared LaVonne so well for kindergarten; her academic and social skills will take her far in elementary school. More importantly, her love for Jesus will bring God’s light and love to others around her.
Kirsten, you have poured love, support, and teaching into the eighteen-year lifetime of your firstborn Christopher. He will now practice and develop those skills independently as he adjusts to college.
Heather and Kirsten, you may question whether your families are prepared for these big changes. As mothers, both of you have witnessed how new challenges develop your children. From that first toddling step out of your arms, your child faced away from you and took off on new adventures. You celebrated your toddler’s new skill of walking, balancing your excitement with parental concern for potential injuries. In your children’s current steps away from you, you will enjoy seeing them make friends, try new activities, and mature in different ways. This launch will also be a balance of excitement and concern, as you support their progress but feel unsettled about the unknowns.
As we mother our children, we stretch and grow along with them. Years ago my friend Nancy called me after I came home from the hospital with my newborn daughter. Both new to the mothering role, Nancy and I shared our surprise over the intense feelings of love and concern we felt for our babies. A tumble of maternal bonding and hormones in the first week with her newborn Ben, Nancy had burst into tears at the aching realization that her precious boy would some day leave her and go off to kindergarten. (Ben successfully survived that milestone and many more; as an adult, he now has a close relationship with his mom.)
This fall, my friend Daphne lamented as she packed away her sons’ train play-table and little-kid toys. As her youngest son started middle school, she experienced the bittersweet reality that playtime had changed and her sons were no longer little boys.
Heather and Kirsten, as you lovingly release your children in this season of launching, please recognize that this is your chance to develop as well. Whether sending a child off to kindergarten or college, the adjustment can motivate you to pray and draw closer to God. Allow God to guide, support, and direct your precious children in their new steps away from home. As you entrust your children to God in new ways, may God give you time and energy to deepen your relationship with Him.
Lord, please be with all of us mothers in various seasons of launching our children. Please guide our children in every step of their new paths. Help us as mothers to reach the goal of Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.