I will never forget the moments I first held my children after their birth. Overwhelmed with joy, relief and love – cradling them in my arms, I never wanted to let them go. And in many ways that hasn’t changed. Joel and Emily are now two wonderful young adults, but the wave of protective love I felt for them as they first drew breath remains fundamentally the same.
For many years I labored under the illusion that parenting became easier as children become older. I was wrong. Every parenting season has its own challenges, from dealing with a baby’s 24/7 demands, a toddler’s tantrums or a teenager’s angst. But in some ways, parenting gets harder as children get older as more and more, against our natural inclinations, we let go of the baby we once held so tightly.
Critical to being a good mother or father is growing in the art of letting go. I have a controlling personality, and everything in me screams to hold on tight to all I hold dear, including my children. But that is neither healthy, nor what God calls me to do. Rather, my role, together with Sue, is to nurture and lead my children into fully formed, healthy adulthood. That can only happen as more and more I let them go, also letting go of any need I have to unhealthily protect or control their lives, or worse still, live my life through them. But in letting go I also hang on – I hang on to God and his promises for me and for my children, knowing they will always be far safer in his keeping than in mine.