I wrote on Instagram yesterday some thoughts about this Jorges Cocco painting that sits on a shelf in my bedroom (a gift from Dave that I adore).

It has meant different things to me through the years, but lately when I look at it I think of the work I am doing right now letting kids go.

Moving “up to the bleachers” in parenting (read the post HERE for more on that).

I have been strangely close to tears the last couple days thinking about the journey we are all on. My kids and I. Other mothers in my same stage. Wondering how we have done things.

What have we done right?

What have we messed up horribly?

Have we held on tight enough?

Have we held on too tight?

Have we made them become “antifragile” from our holding on?

How have we unintentionally scarred our kids?

And then I came across THIS POST from Brooke Romney that is SO GOOD (if you are in this stage I am talking about it will hit you right at home, she the BEST).

Which made me examine all those questions even deeper.

Maybe my emotions lately are not so focused on what has passed, but more the job of the “unknown” that looms in front of me.

Yes, the “motherhood as I have always known it” is slipping quietly away:

The babies on my hip, the sticky floors, the wide-eyed imagination, the adventures with all my little ducks in a row.

But the mothering is still there, it’s just so different. This new parenting stuff is bigger and deeper.

And rather than dig in and get my hands dirty with it like I did with my babies and young children, I have to learn to step away.

Off the playing field.

And cheer my heart out for them from the bleachers.

I think everything has come so close to the surface personally for me lately for a lot of reasons, but maybe the biggest right now is that Grace is finishing her mission and is coming home in TWO DAYS!

And I know that seems so weird. Why would I be so emotional about that when I’m excited out of my mind to hug that girl up and have her here in the real flesh and blood?

It’s just that having a child complete a mission gives you a lot to think about.

I think I have just been praying so hard for all the beauty she has learned and the growth she has gained to channel seamlessly into “real life.”

And I want to control it, which, of COURSE I can’t.

It would be horrible if I could. Because those paths of my kids, whether it’s Grace or any of the rest of them, are different from my path, and they are figuring out way better things than I could according to their own desires and gifts.

Oh I worry about all kinds of things I don’t have any control over any more as they march out into the big, wide world, carrying gigantic pieces of my heart with them.

(Tell me if I’m alone in this wishing we could control it all though. Am I the only crazy one?)

No, that control has slipped quietly out of my grasp for most of my children now.

So that is why that painting sitting on the shelf in my bedroom speaks to me more than ever these days.

Because I have realized what I can control: My alignment with God.

I am stepping back, yes, but I can pray my guts out for these children of mine who will always be my “babies” no matter how much they grow up.

And I am realizing more than ever that there is tremendous power in prayer.

Not to change what is happening, but to align my heart with God’s. And with my childrens’ unique journeys.

And THAT is the end of my thoughts on this for today.

Except that as long as we’re talking about letting go, I’ll indulge you in a story. Not a deep big-kid worry but just life as a mother with kids growing up:

A few months ago I had a grand plan to get Grace home from her mission a week and a half early so that she could be with us for spring break (it was Max and Carson’s spring breaks too and that lure of having EVERYONE together for a week was such a beauty, we haven’t had that for a LONG time and who knows when we will again?). I talked to a couple people “in charge” in the mission who both agreed that family time together would be wonderful if Grace was on board. But it turns out Grace wasn’t quite on board. When we asked her if she wanted to come home with us early for spring break she was all calm and collected with the biggest smile and said no, she didn’t want to leave early even if just for a week. She is loving that mission and didn’t want to give any days up.

And for some reason I felt so calm about her answer. And then it ended up Max couldn’t get out of work that week anyway.

When kids start leaving home, boy howdy it’s tricky to get everyone together! So you go with the flow.

We took those who could come, and we’ll get the other three next week and it will all work out!

Elle was here for a wedding, then we met up with Carson for his spring break, and Elle came back with us since she is freelance for work right now and can work anywhere.

And did I mention Grace gets home in TWO DAYS???

Just wanted to make sure 🙂

A few pics from spring break:

(Trying to bake brownies when we realized we didn’t actually have an oven…)

Big pieces of our hearts missing without Max, Abby and our missionary girl, but so much heart right there, together.

SO, after that little digression, back to the title of this post:

“The most important work we’ll ever do,” in my opinion, is to be in that position like Jesus is in that favorite painting of mine.

“We have to pray as the ancients prayed. We are women now, not children, and are expected to pray with maturity. The words most often used to describe urgent, prayerful labor are wrestle, plead, cry, and hunger…In some sense, prayer may be the hardest work we will ever be engaged in, and perhaps it should be.”
― Patricia T. Holland, A Quiet Heart

Life takes us on some interesting journeys and we just need to lean into the One who is in charge.

The One who will help us through all the ups and downs that come our way.

And that is a pretty beautiful thing.

More posts about kids growing up:

From babies to teenagers

“Handing over the baby” –a shifting “locus of control”

Two case studies of “helping” kids

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  1. My kids are 26, 23, and 17 and I have similar feelings to you. Sometimes I feel silly that I find this stage of parenting so complex and emotional. Maybe because sometimes it is portrayed as being on easy street now that they mostly on their own. I enjoy so much of it and except for fleeting moments here and there, have nor real desire to go backwards in time and parent young children again– but it is hard to know when to step in and when to step aside. And there feels like there is always something to worry about. Like you, I try and remind myself that they do know what is best for them or are willing to take risks to find out. I also try and remind myself to lean into this time–the uncomfortable feelings and all–because so much of it wonderful. My friend, who is also a therapist, often reminds me –they know you are their for them, that is enough.

  2. I loved Brooke thoughts, I had such a baby heart that day.
    My first is just graduating and I didn’t think I could be this emotional. I feel like no one prepares you for this time. She’s going to school in Idaho, that’s 9 hours drive from me. She doesn’t know anyone. She’s excited and nervous and I’m praying my guys out too. ( there are 45 kids in her whole high school, this is going to be huge for her) I want to see her fly and yet I want to keep her tucked in bed at home where I know she’s safe. My heart literally hurts somedays. I find myself just staring at her and thinking that June is coming fast.. wahhhhhhh

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