Those of you with children will remember the complete sense of awe and inadequacy one feels when you first hold your child. I don't care if it is your first child or your tenth, somehow you feel as though this little person who is totally dependent upon you will some day find out just how big a fraud you really are.
I remember those feelings each time I held one of my kids for the first time. I looked into their eyes and promised that I would do the best I could for them. Somehow I knew even then that my best probably wasn't going to be good enough to protect them.
It is really easy to protect your kids when they are little. You hold their hand, and help them to navigate in a place that is new and treacherous. But as they grow older it isn't "cool" anymore to hold your hand, or ask for help, even when they need it. You send them out into the big, scary world, and hope that the things you tried to teach them will stick with them and help them make good choices.
But we all know that making good choices and being between the ages of 13 and 25 are pretty mutually exclusive. I remember all of the bad choices I made during those years, and in some cases I am still trying to live with the consequences of those choices. I think that is part of the reason that motivates us as parents to try to keep our children from making the same disastrous choices that we made. Let me tell you right now, our parents couldn't stop us, and we won't be able to stop our children.
I guess this is one of those times when you just have to trust that deep down your kids are pretty level headed and won't do anything too destructive or antisocial, and then you have to leave them to the tender mercies of their Heavenly Father and their Guardian Angel and anyone else you can think of in heaven who will watch over them.
Letting go is really hard. Knowing that other people consider your children to be pretty level headed, and darn nice people helps, but you still wish that they would crawl into your lap when they are afraid, and ask your advice before they make a choice that will alter the direction of their future.
I realized when I looked into their baby eyes on that first day of their lives that they were a precious gift from God. These gifts aren't mine to keep though, these gifts are mine for a time, and then I have to offer them back to God without holding on so tight that I smother and harm them.
I'm doing a lot of letting go and letting God this week. It probably won't kill me, but it sure feels as though a part of me is being ripped out. I guess I need to remember how Mary must have felt watching her Son be crucified, all the while trusting that God was in control. Mary, teach me to let my children go to fulfill whatever destiny God has chosen for them. Oh, and could you please hurry.