We are now a month into our oldest son’s venture into his rite of passage into public school kindergarten. Both his father and I did the same thing about this age, so you would think we would not be the ones flailing like newborns emotionally. No one can really prepare you I guess for the leap the whole family takes from the safety net of preschool to 7 hour workdays for 5-6 year old children. It has felt like something between fingernails on a chalkboard and the rapidly fading warmth of summer sunshine in my heart most days. I am not sure my son would describe it much differently. He is hesitantly spreading his wings wide as I feel like I am prematurely pushing him over the side of our cozy nest like a mama bird with her brood; neither of us quite ready for the flight, a little shaky and insecure about all the unknown.
I remember sitting in my chair on the beach just a few months ago watching him run wild chasing seagulls staggering along the coastline. I captured the above picture to take me back to the the very moment I knew I needed to learn to let go in a new way. Letting go of the grip we have when they are so little as they take a big step is not natural. I knew in the following weeks my precious baby boy who made me a mama would be stepping out into the big, and beautifully broken world where we live. My mind wandered back through snapshots of our first night in the hospital after laboring for 24+ hours that felt like days. I remember praying over him with my husband Ben, releasing him into the arms of our Creator, who somehow knows the number of hairs on his head and the grains of sand on the very beach where I was sitting that steamy August day in Georgia. We were confident that holding on loosely would be for his best. No one told me though, that surrender would need to take place everyday for the rest of my life!
So, I sit back and relish in the sweet, fleeting memories I have of him growing up spending the majority of his waking hours under my care. I describe it as a grieving process when I speak to friends in passing when they thoughtfully ask how we are all doing with the transition into elementary school. It honestly feels like a loss for me to entrust him into the care of a teacher who has 23 other little precious children of God to instruct daily. I selfishly want to see the lightbulbs go off as he learns how to memorize those sight words, watch him gain confidence as he learns to speak up on the playground, and be there to pat his back when life feels overwhelming in all ways possible. Yet I wonder, if I was there, would he truly grow with me hovering? Maybe so, in different ways, but would it be best for him and our family? The verdict is still out for us whether or not this will be our longterm education preference for all our children. He is paving the way for his brother and sister as we navigate the system and form our schooling style.
Earlier in the summer I was helping teach a class at our church’s art camp & I was washing out a muddy paint bucket at a sink. I turned around only to see in one instant my son walk under not one, but two swings and get pounded in the head both times. Hello, life. Everything in me wanted to run out there & comfort him and wipe away his tears that streamed instantly. But I waited. I knew this was a glimpse into his new season of life of learning to cope without me hiding in the shadows, although I literally was doing just that without his awareness. Again, I prayed that prayer maybe only a mama can understand — Lord I entrust him to you. He is yours. You can love and protect him better than me, for you knit him together in my womb, and I know he is fearfully and wonderfully made. He is yours, above mine.
I am confident this will be the prayer I pray for each of my children as they hit new milestones & go through both the highs and lows of this one life we are given. I have already seen such courage and bravery being formed inside his soul with each day that passes. Although this releasing of control is disorienting and painful during those final hours of the school day, I press on. When he normally at that hour would be home running his cars along our dusty hardwoods, I can see the hand of God weaving together a storyline for his life, in but not of the world. My hope is that He will be a light that burns brightly and that when he is scared he will remember that the One who dreamt him up is right by his side. I also hope that over time through my learning to let go daily I will be able to see the faithfulness of all His promises unfold before my eyes as I watch my little Kindergartner flourish.
So this weekend we soaked in every moment, it’s amazing how absence truly does make the heart grow even fonder. I took some time to get down on his level & meet him where he was with all the feelings he has swirling inside. We color coded cars, drew pictures, colored, and connected. It seems connection is what he is really longing for, aren’t we all? It is what he is seeking at school but coming up empty handed with at the moment. Watching his highly sensitive soul (see Elaine Aron for more on HSP’s) attempt to make sense of the overwhelming world in which we live is something I fully relate to sweet son of mine! It will take time, but we will adjust little man!
My friend sent this timely commercial that we are watching often in our home, so if you have a little one you are sending out into the world with an unsettled heart, I hope this will lighten your load as it has mine. We are so not alone. We have the company of a mighty Lion by our side.