"A mother's struggle to let go of her children"
Eileen Rife (c) 1999
The air was crisp for a late August morn - early signs of autumn. I felt an unusual anticipation in the new day. As I walked briskly around the block, I noticed moms and children leaving their front doors and approaching the bus stop. Some children seemed excited by the thought of a fresh school year and ran happily ahead of their parent.
Most of these ambitious upstarts were "first-timers." Having never darkened the door of a schoolhouse, they were now eagerly awaiting the new thrill of kindergarten. Other older, wiser children, fully aware of what lay before
them, lagged behind. Some were actually pushed forward by their parent.
I was intrigued most by the moms of the kindergartners. Some emitted a great big sigh of relief, perhaps at the thought of finally delivering their young one into the care of another. Others stood motionless with a sleepy blank stare smeared across their faces, seemingly oblivious to the import of the day. A few others stood quietly weeping.
The "weeping" crowd tugged at my heart, especially since my neighbor fell into that category. As I rounded the corner to come back home from my morning walk, I observed Carol standing by the roadside with five-year-old Michael. With hair slicked back and bus card securely tied around his neck, he came flying into my yard. "Mrs. Rife, Mrs. Rife, I get to go to school today!" Michael fairly gleamed as he chattered on about his upcoming day. I gave Michael a generous squeeze, wished him well in his newfound venture, and sent him back to his mom, still waiting at the roadside. As I reached to open my front door, Carol yelled over, "I think I'm going to start bawling." I thought for a minute and responded, "That's okay, Carol; I'm a mom too, and that's just what moms do."
The image of Carol standing sadly by the roadside anticipating that first momentous goodbye in her son's life plagued me all day long. As the thought rattled around in my head, the Holy Spirit reminded me that each of us moms encounters bus stops in rearing our children. We moms learn early on that motherhood is a lifelong process of letting go. Beginning with the birthing bus stop, we move on to the childhood bus stop, only to travel on to the adolescent bus stop, the graduation bus stop, and I suppose, a life committed to a never-ending line of bus stops as we observe our grown children make their way in life. We mentally once again let go and let God have His way in their lives. Each bus stop encounter is a fresh taste of grief, a struggle to let go, to relax and allow God to carry our precious cargo to His desired
destination. We cry, we adjust, and in time, we heal, moving on to the next phase of our lives.
Psalm 46:10 says, "Cease striving (let go, be still, relax) and know that I am God." God comes to us in our goodbyes and reminds us that He is in control. We are in His loving care and so are our cherished ones. God may ask us to say goodbye to one bus, but hello to another bus filled with all manner of good things just waiting to get off and enter our lives. As we reach for God, He fills our hearts with Himself.
Writing this article has been an exercise in letting go of my girls. Every remembrance has been a process of growth for this homeschool mom. While I did not physically place my children on a school bus during their growing years, I did mentally and emotionally board them time and time again. Through tear-stained eyes, I have allowed my writings to be a form of healing, another step in the struggle to loosen the reins and allow my young ponies to dart from their stalls and run free with the wind at their backs.
And what a joyous freedom that is for all of us. I feel free because I had the courage to let go, trusting God to watch over them and to provide me with His peace. Through the conviction of His Spirit and the encouragement of other believers, God showed me how to have an identity apart from my children. I have discovered that letting go is ultimately the best, most courageous, most freeing thing I can do for myself and for my children!
Read more articles by eileen rife or search for articles on the same topic or others.