I didn’t expect tears on the first day of school. Honestly, I didn’t. But after saying goodbye to my two smiling kindergarteners, my own tears nearly drown me in a sea of unexpected emotion I couldn’t quite explain. I’m sure I wasn’t the only mother having her own private ugly cry from within the confines of her now empty vehicle.
I guess I should have seen it coming.
For the better part of a week, I tried my hardest to get out from underneath the tension of it all. No matter how prepared you think you are, certain moments in life suck the wind right out of you, and I’m learning to accept the normalcy of it.
The moments that take our breath away also make us feel most alive.
I looked up the word kindergarten, because that’s what you do when you suddenly find yourself immersed in a silent house with your own uncontrolled emotion and a toddler who hasn’t started running her mouth just yet.
The German word, kindergarten, literally means “garden of children.” The word is rooted in kindness. When I kiss my girl and my boy goodbye each morning, I can’t get this picture out of my mind. I have an unsettled awareness that feels a whole lot like waiting for seeds to grow.
The seeds, no longer in my grasp, are tucked deep within the dirt where real growth will take place. I can’t see evidence that they’re growing just yet. I can’t protect them or hold them; all I can do is watch and wait. This is part of their journey, and it is part of mine, too.
So much of motherhood takes place in life’s waiting room.
Shadows of the unknown loom large and scary overhead in these moments. When I pray, an answer comes in the form of two simple words. Let go. I cringe every time I hear them.
From those first steps across the kitchen floor to the ones down the aisle in a pretty chapel, letting go initiates every new season in a mother’s life. Our role is to let go and let those seeds fall into place. It is the most difficult yet necessary act of mothering.
On days I feel particularly uncertain or even unwilling to let go, I rehearse this truth: Seeds must be planted in order to grow. Though the sower must provide water, sunlight, and good soil, the sower has very little to do with what happens underneath the surface.
The dark, unseen territory of growth belongs to God.
Paul used this same analogy in his letter to the Corinthians. He wrote, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7) As moms, we nurture those entrusted to us. Taking our instruction from Him, we teach them the best way we know how. Who they grow up to become is God’s business.
Some days I remember this well, and other days I want to kneel down and dig until dirt cakes underneath my fingernails. I want to feel the assurance and comfort and control of those seeds in my hand again. I want so badly to believe it’s all up to me.
Digging up seeds in an attempt to ward off change only interrupts the beauty of God’s design.
I’ve been telling myself a few things when my fingers start to get that itch to dig. Maybe these words will calm your restless fingertips, too, because God knows we’re all in this together.
God’s got this, and God’s got them. Everything He does is always good. Change, though unsettling to any mother-heart, is part of God’s design. Yet there’s such peace in knowing that God Himself never ever changes.
His love for our children is greater than our own. His protection and provision for them extends farther than we can imagine. God’s purpose for their lives is much greater than our comfort zone.
Letting go is the equivalent to surrender, and surrender always leads me back to Jesus. When I think about who He is and all He has promised, I remember that I can trust Him… completely. And so can you.