Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letters to My Daughters - Letting Go

Dear Daughters,

I understand why they do it. Those moms who hold their children close—so close that they can’t even breathe.

I know why they stand at the kindergarten door, hands cupped around their face, nose pressed against the glass, just hoping to get a glimpse of their little one as he marches into the classroom for the very first time.

I know why they sit on the sidelines for every. single. soccer practice and that, while it looks like they’re reading a magazine, they are really watching their middle schooler run and kick and slide because they are so proud that they made such an amazing person who can do those things.

I know why they volunteer for every opportunity they can—the marching band or the dance team or the school play—because it gives them just a few more minutes to be with their high school child; just one more point of connection with a kid who will very soon be gone.

I know why, when they drop their son or daughter off at college, they look over their shoulder and say, “Your room will be waiting for you when you get home!”

I get it. I’ve been it, that smothering mother. (You probably think I still am.)

But there’s a difference between some of those moms and me: I have raised you to let you go.

On the day I first became a mother I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t—couldn’t—hold you near me forever. I wanted to give the three of you wings. I wanted you to discover all that this big, wide world had to offer, and I wanted you to make your own path through it.

As much as I could, I showed you the world: Brazil. Switzerland. England. I did this intentionally, to trigger your imagination, to encourage you to see the possibilities. Mostly, though, to help you see that God is in all of it and that His plans for the world include you.

Yes, I believe in letting go.

That doesn’t make it easy.

This is a big week of transitions for us. A week in which it would be easy for me to stay under my covers, blocking out the fact that two of you are starting new schools and one of you is taking big steps toward adulthood. This is a week that seems important and huge and permanent. This is one of those weeks that I hope I’ve prepared each of you for, and yet, a week that I wish I had not been so intentional about.

A week in which I wish I could say, “Come back! Stay here!”

Those moms? The ones who hold a little too tightly? Me, if I’m honest. They hold on because they love their kids. They hold on because they want to stay involved in the lives of their kids. They hold on because they think that if they don’t, their kids will leave them forever.

They do it because it hurts so very much to let go.

Needtobreathe has a new song out—when I heard it for the first time this week I stopped in my tracks. I needed this reminder to keep holding you not quite so tightly.

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown till you
Keep your eyes open, my love
So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love

Girls, the “great unknown” is out there, waiting for you to make a difference in it. Keep your eyes open and do that—make a difference.

Prove me right.


  1. And be sure to run a lot of water when you are using the garbage disposal so it won't jam up....

  2. Thanks for this post! I have had a hard two weeks letting Maddie "go" to middle school with lockers and lip gloss and boys. While I know she hasn't, it feels like she's left me, ha!! So glad to have some moms a few steps ahead of me to get encouragement from...like you!

  3. Ha, Nancy! There's that too. :)

    Amanda, I know that feeling. Not fun. Glad to provide some encouragement!

  4. I suppose I'm getting the tears out now so I won't be "that mom" tomorrow by the second grade door. It's only second grade, for heaven's sake! But still, your post is the anticipation of things to come for me in only a decade and how deeply I desire to teach them how to fly. Thanks for being such a great role model :)

  5. This is a hard one for me to even begin to imagine doing. I find it hard already but I try to let myself do it!!


  6. Thinking of you today, Mrs. W. :)

    Sarah, you'll be surprised when it finally happens, trust me.

  7. Ugh. I am so struggling with this right now. This whole firstborn going to kindergarten thing is really not feeling ok! Thanks for this timely encouragement, Shelly!

  8. Love it Shelly! If I'd taken my children to Switzerland and England and Brazil I'd just copy it and send it to each of them. Alas, we only did New York and California, among other less exotic places. But, girl, I echo your sentiments completely. Letting go is oh so hard, but oh so good. I'm truly excited to see where God takes them and how well they follow. Blessings on you and yours as you tread through the waters of transition!

  9. I get it, Sarah. i cried like a baby when my first went to kindergarten. The second day, though, was a much different story! :)

    Kay, you are so sweet and I think California and New York are pretty awesome too. It is an exciting time of life--fun to see what God will do in the next few years, huh?

  10. My tough "letting go" moment was just morning preschool...I'm gonna be such a wreck come college!

  11. Excellent post! So true--- they need roots and wings! We must make them experience life's trials when they come so when we are not there--- they will know what to do! Thank you for this reminder!

  12. Oh, how I wish you could come live in my house and hold my hand through motherhood... :)