Playdates: When Letting Go is Hard

I thought that it would get easier—thought that as they grew the letting go would fall from my fingers naturally. Instead, I find I’m balling my fists, clutching this thing tight against my breast and closing my eyes to the way things are supposed to be.
This is what we are supposed to do, right? Fledge them well? Yet, these steps they take away from me catch in my throat and sometimes I can’t breathe. 
Saturday, we are up before dawn so I can drop my youngest at the rendezvous point. He will be gone all day…far away—the furthest he has ever been away from this nest. Without me. We go over the list of dos and don’ts, I quiz him about hypothetical mishaps, he tolerates my neuroses.
Finally, he says, “Mom, I’m twelve years old. I can handle this.”
Twelve years old.
This is the number of years I had under my skin when my life changed forever. Twelve years old is the age I was when my parents divorced and the world I was planted in was violently pulled up by the roots.
Why does twelve years old seem so much younger now?
I remember a former patient I spoke to years ago. This dear woman had had a stroke and suffered any number of medical setbacks. She was in her mid-eighties, a beautiful crown of white on her head. One day I entered her room to find her talking on the telephone.
I don’t want you driving up here, she said. The traffic is so bad. You don’t need the stress. Are you taking your blood pressure medicine?
She was talking to her sixty-some year old son.
It never changes, she said. You never stop worrying about them.
On Saturday, as we stop at the light, my son remembers what I have forgotten. He remembers what I have let fretting replace.
Let’s pray, mom.
So we do. I drop him off and as I watch him walk away, I feel lonely. But this time, I remember.
On the way home, I pray. 

How about you? How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. And come tell us about it.

Grab my new button at the bottom of the page and join us!


Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also:

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  1. says

    I feel this when I look at my life as a mother, and I still feel it in my life as a daughter–never mind that I’m 42. You expressed it beautifully, as do the photos.

  2. says

    Laura–this is one of my very favorites…and the photos were perfect.
    Made me teary…
    Our oldest, 10 and 1/2, was gone her “farthest from the nest” last week…and it really hit me…how much I love her, how really difficult it is for me to remember I do trust Him.

  3. says

    oh laura, these photos … and your words… enough to turn this young mama mush, this morning. i got weepy yesterday just dropping my 19-month off at nursery. i had been hoping it got easier… 🙂 but then it wouldn’t be love, i guess… (love to you)

  4. says

    Just love the pictures. Oh, Laura — I’ve faced this so many times with four sons, all now over 18. And yes, moms just keep on doing it.

    The best part is, it’s just so lovely to see them take flight in a beautiful arc across the sky.

  5. says

    Your duck family is so precious. Loved your post.
    I tried to keep a close watch until our children reached 21. Then they informed me of decisions I did not agree with. I had to tell them, I have taught you right from wrong and although I do not agree with your choice, you must make your own decision and I will always love you still.

  6. says

    These photos are so wonderful. And when I scrolled to that last one, I got a shiver. Aw! 🙂

    Yeah, we never stop worrying. It’s a mama thing. 🙂

  7. says

    The picture story is so beautiful Laura.
    I understand sweet friend. Somehow we do the letting go, but our hearts are forever engaged.
    I am 64 years old, and yesterday my Mom asked me if I was walking alone these days.
    “Yes Mom.”
    “Is it safe?”
    “Yes Mom.”
    Forever engaged.

  8. says

    Oh, Laura. Right there with you and your little ducks. They’re becoming just what we’ve raised them to be, and yet. . .

    Mine head off later this summer to California, thankfully together. But a long, long way from me.


  9. says

    You must have been so excited to get those photos! What a gem from God, to be right there at the right time. And you words…so perfectly fitting. God is good!

  10. says

    Oh, Laura, your photos are precious. I thought my quails were darling but these ducklings are adorable. I’ve been struggling so much with our youngest leaving the nest. I’m a little balder these days as I tear out my hair over it. I’ve also written a couple of posts about it, if you’re interested. One is “Taken From Under My Wing,” and the other is “Grace for the Day”. Since then the storms have been raging in me and that’s what Sunday’s post was about that I thought about linking up with you, but it didn’t seem like fun!
    Loved your perspective–we never do stop loving them or worrying about them. As Ann V said, We are tied to them under the skin of our heart.

  11. says

    “these steps they take away from me catch in my throat and sometimes I can’t breathe.”…oh Laura, when your title came up on my google reader I waited till now to read it…for I know this pain fresh and deep.

    Strong cords within us weave through our children and into our grandchildren…which is why I posted about the same thing yesterday…yet the answer is always the same…we must lift it all in prayer…we must…or our love becomes obsessive control,consuming them and us…love the mama duck images dear sister.

  12. says

    Beautiful, Laura! I am intimately acquainted with the ache of letting go. The severing that must occur. It is bittersweet to witness them enjoying the strength of their wings in flight . . . and we, back at the nest, forever anticipate their return.
    Blessings, sweet friend!

  13. says

    I think what to us feels like a tearing away, is really the expansion of our hearts to enlarge to whatever distance they’re ready to go. They couldn’t get away from our love if they tried, so our hearts get major stretch marks, and the stretching hurts like crazy sometimes! Right there with you Laura!

  14. says

    I love these photos. It’s always thrilling to come upon a mama duck and her ducklings. We have two families of Canadian geese here who waddle all over the place. I never get tired of watching them. They’re so funny!

  15. says

    Love, love, love your precious duckling photos!

    Yes, letting go is hard. It’s been said that nothing which doesn’t take effort turns out to be really important. Someday, when we get to heaven, we’ll find out that the struggles in this life, the fears, the letting go — were all worthwhile!

  16. says

    It is hardest Laura. It’s also ahrdest trusting Him, letting go to His hands. Especially when we have know things that have been let go so broken.

    And yet this is His unfailing, never ending promise ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’

    Always there, on letting go days and holding on tight days.

    Your heart always blesses me sweet L.


  17. says

    well, all the comments express what I’m thinking as well.

    you are a wonderful mother…

    and to continue my thoughts that I started above… now that I’m more and more in love with my children and life, well, I’m feeling this more and more… but it’s beautiful. precious . a gift. My eldest daughter was only home from University for two weeks and then we brought her back to Boston for a summer internship. Wonderfully exciting opportunity for her of course. But a bittersweet milestone . And I miss her already.



  18. says

    These words give voice to my own feelings of being without my children for eight weeks, as they visit their father in Indiana. Oh, divorce…

    Prayer? Yes! What a wise boy, surely modeling what he’s seen in his momma.

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