A Mom's Back-to-School Blues
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17b-19 (NIV)
The first day of school has always been difficult for me. Even as a child I cried every first day until I was really too old to cry. I thought I was past the first-day-of-school blues once I became a mother. But, I was wrong. It got worse.
Kindergarten, first grade, junior high and high school beginnings usually left me standing on the street, holding back tears and waving with a pasted on smile - all while someone I loved ran off happily - without looking back.
But nothing prepared me for last year ... when my son Dylan started college. He's the first one to leave the nest and I was feeling shaky about the whole thing all summer. Oh I put on a good face and celebrated every moment with him. But when I got alone, the mascara started running.
The day we moved him in to the dorm was the worst. Every time we carried a load of clothes or supplies into his room I could feel my eyes stinging with unshed tears. I blinked furiously and thought of cute kittens playing with string ... anything to stop me from embarrassing both of us.
Thankfully I held it together in front of him. But when I got in the car to head home, I sobbed.
I decided I needed a really big, sweet coffee drink and pulled into a drive through. Only once I heard the girl's voice through the little speaker, I pictured her as a cute college student and started crying harder. She repeated her question about my drink and I just hung my head, unable to speak through my tears.
My younger son Robbie was with me, and thankfully he took over. He leaned around me and explained in a loud voice: "We just dropped my brother off at college and my mom is crying too hard to order. But she'd like an iced venti caramel macchiato."
For months I had stuffed down my emotions trying to get them under control. But I knew I needed to explore why I was so sad. Once I allowed myself to go there, it didn't take long to realize I was grieving the changes in my relationships with my children. Every year they need me a little less. Every year I have to release some measure of control. And their everyday lives don't revolve around me quite as much. That's a very good and healthy thing. But it's still hard.
There is so much I have to be thankful for, but I can't deny the grief of moving past a stage of parenting that was precious to me, and realizing my children don't need me as much. So I've spent many hours going to God with my sadness. And He has not disappointed me with His response.
He hears my cries and He reminds me of an important truth: My identity is not found in being a mother, but in being a daughter of the King – and that relationship will never change. God never needs to pull away from me to become independent, rather He prefers that I become more dependent.
So as I learn to accept the natural way of raising a child and the inherent healthy separation, that concept does not apply to God and me. God wants more of my time, He wants me to come to Him for advice, and He wants to talk with me. This is a relationship that will never change, except to become stronger.
God is using these separation moments to grow my children and me. They are learning to stand on their own, and I'm learning to become more dependent on God. I'm not saying I've got this thing whipped. I've got a few more first days to go. But I do know where to go for reassurance.
Dear Lord, thank You for never changing, never pulling away and never needing to be independent from me. Help me to accept this natural way of things in my children's lives and to turn to You for support when I'm feeling alone. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Many people have trouble believing that God loves them. What can happen in the life of a Christian who doesn't know and experience God's love personally?
If you need a reminder of your value and worth, spend some time reading Psalm 139.
1 John 3:1a, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (NIV)
1 John 4:10, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (NIV)
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