I Want My Baby Back

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Any parent will tell you that from the moment that little baby lets out their first cry, life becomes a roller coaster of happiness and heartbreak, balance and bittersweetness, pride and patience. Parents will also tell you that the roller coasters have many different loops and turns, each with their own invigorating experiences. As our children grow up and transition through the different life stages, so does our parenting.

IMG_3575With each new year comes a new adjustment to the type and amount of parenting your son or daughter needs. Infants and toddlers need us for everything, school age children are more independent but still need meals and cuddles, and high schoolers and college kids seem to just need parents to act like human ATMs.

Going through these "parenting growth spurts" is painful at times. We love our children, and we're excited to see them maturing into the people God planned for them to be before they were even conceived. Yet as parents, we can't help but reminisce and wish for our children to always be the bundled little infant we brought home from the hospital.

As a mom, I sometimes find myself "grieving" my children growing up. For example, when my son went to college, I felt like I had abandoned him there. This child I had given birth to 18 years ago. The sweet, precious boy who had charmed me since his first breath. I drove him 500 miles away and left him!

I knew it was time for college, and he’d picked a good one. I knew he was ready. I also knew I had a Carter-size hole in my heart. Life would never be the same.

I cried all the way home. My husband, daughters, and I went to lunch after church the next day. When the host asked us how many in our party, we started to answer five, but then had to change it to four. We all cried. I kept picking up his favorite chocolate milk at the grocery store, but then remembering no one would drink it. The loss was deep.

After continuing to cry every single day for the next six weeks, I began to process my pain and the reasons for it. I was one of those moms who did a cartwheel when the kid started kindergarten. Why was I having such a hard time? I have been truly happy for my kids with every milestone they’ve reached. Yet, somehow, there was also mourning associated with each phase.

What causes these tears?

As our kids reach these transitions and milestones, it is totally normal to have mixed feelings. We grieve for the loss of what was. We are sad they don’t need us so much any more. We have to readjust the way we think of ourselves. On the other hand, we are so excited for them to grow up and become who God intended them to be. We celebrate with them as they learn new skills and become increasingly independent.

Parents, we MUST let them go, one step at a time. Don’t fight it, plan it. What skills should a kid their age need to know how to do? (If you don’t know, ask their teacher!) For example…

Moms, let’s admit our mixed emotions and work through them to get to a healthy place. Pray, pray, pray for these kids. Give up control and trust God to take care of our precious offspring. After all, HE is the one who made them. HE’s got this. And HE’s got you, too.

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