September has been rocky for me so far. I feel anxious, off-kilter, and have the tell-tale signs of tension in my body: stiff neck, canker sores and zits on my chin. I'm so glad to be home, after the month of August where I wasn't even home for a full week, but a lot of conflict and change occurred at the end of the month and I think it all hit me with the force of a Mack truck when I returned home.
Then there was the tension of getting Ava settled into her Grade 2 classroom, and knowing that William's preschool start date was drawing near. I finally took a few quiet moments this weekend to think about what is really bothering me, and I realized that I'm holding too tightly to my kids.
Over the summer, when I wasn't working and home with both of them, I got into the swing of their company, and enjoyed being responsible for their safety in a way that I can't manufacture during the school year. Now I have to loosen my fingers, believe that God will hold them in his hand when I am not physically present to do so, and understand that this is an important part of parenting.
The hanging on is much easier for me than the letting go. I'm sure with all Type A's this phenomenon applies. Control is where I thrive and excel; surrender is deeply uncomfortable to me. As children grow, they need independence in small, manageable chunks, and it is my job as their parent to offer them this space and freedom to grow without any guilt or caretaking for me. I believe this deep in my soul, but it's harder to practice than I thought it would be.
"Keep Calm and Carry On" applies here, as it does in so much of life, as I learn to take deep breaths and relax into all that I cannot control. I remind myself that God is in control, and he loves me, and will take care of me in a way that I cannot replicate. My kids are not my possessions. They are people in their own right, and need space to grow and develop without me hovering over them, crying because they are growing up so quickly.
They need encouragement and freedom to be who they are meant to be. I don't want them to be laden down with the responsibility for my anxiety. I have to manage my own process and leave them to develop into the unique people they are destined to become. Recognizing that I am not the only person who will speak into their lives and shape how they grow is an important first step.
When children are at home for the first few years, we have such a deep imprint on them, and we have to hope that influence will go deep into the soil of their hearts and grow there. When they reach school age, their teachers and friends will water those seeds and everyone will see what is actually blooming in their lives. If I can embrace how exciting this process is instead of mourning what is over and cannot be again, I will be happier than I am now, and my kids will relax and be more content. It's better for all of us.
That is my new learning curve. Letting go, and letting God watch over them, and rejoicing in their growth and beauty instead of fearing what is coming. I can't go back, so I may as well go forward, and learn the lessons that this new stage is trying to teach me. I don't want to fight what is coming, but instead accept it, and understand that there will always be more changes on the horizon, and all that I can really control is my attitude toward them.