Here in Michigan the first day of school traditionally falls on the Tuesday after Labor Day. I rather like this about my state. It seems fitting for school to start on the heels of what so many consider the last day of summer.
No matter when school is starting or has already started in your neck of the woods, no matter whether it’s your oldest or your youngest, the start of kindergarten or the start of college, public, private, or homeschool bound, collectively as mamas, we stand and look at the child we once held in our arms and wonder where and how the time has gone.
My oldest daughter Aletheia is starting kindergarten at home this fall and while she won’t be riding away on a big yellow bus our days still feel marked by change. The kind of change that forces me to remember that motherhood, at its core, is all about letting go.
In July Tenley moved from her crib in the nursery to a big-girl-bed in her big sister’s room. In August Aletheia lost her first tooth. These are small milestones, I know, but they are milestones nonetheless. Markers that remind me in neon lights that my babies are growing up and there is nothing I can do to change it.
Perhaps Aletheia expressed it best when she came to me with her wiggly-tooth smile and said, “You’re not ready for this are you, Mom?”
No, sweet girl, I’m not.
A few weeks ago my friend Tara posted a note on Facebook. Her youngest is starting kindergarten this year, and Tara put into words what I know many of us are feeling this weekend:
My eyes pool with tears every time I read this note, and I think that’s because it captures so well the balance between letting go of our most prized possessions, our babies, our hearts and trusting them to God and the people He puts in their lives.
To Cole’s Kindergarten teacher…I’ve prayed for you over and over…
Isn’t this the key? The hidden strength we don’t think we have but do possess as moms? The power to pray. The power to trust our little ones to God, to the One whose love is unfathomably greater than ours.
Praying for and trusting God with our children may not make the milestones, the growing up, the waving good-bye on the first day of school easier but it does make us better equipped. It reminds us that our children’s futures aren’t up to us, that there is someone beyond us who loves them beyond understanding.
And no matter how hard it is to let go, to send them off, to watch them grow, this is a comfort and a weapon against the temptation to hold on with fear, denial, and misplaced trust in what we as parents can do.
As mamas we can do a lot but we are never better or as capable as parents, as mothers, as keepers of souls, as we are when we help our children become more and more independent from us while at the same time becoming, ourselves, more and more dependent on Him.
So mamas, this post is for you. May your first day of school (and all the milestones thereafter) be filled with a love that casts out fear, a box of tissues, and God who holds on…even as we let go.
Tara Homan is a photographer and stay-at-home mom of two. For more information please visit Tara Homan Photography on Facebook.