I’m no longer the last person he says goodnight to. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Here we are, just raising these boys, hoping and praying things over their futures, watching them grow, teaching them independence and other life skills, hoping they have heard the things we have said, and praying they make our faith their faith and choose to follow Jesus. And then, just like that, without any warning, without asking my permission, there is someone special in his life. Someone he spends hours on the phone with. Someone he wants to spend his time with. Someone who isn’t me.

All of a sudden, we are operating under a new normal. A new normal of raising teenagers and not just little boys. A new set of rules and boundaries. New things to pray about. And having a girlfriend is just the beginning. Soon there will be summer jobs, college tours, driver’s licenses, and traveling amongst other things. My brain is spinning on this hamster wheel of trying to figure it all out and stay on top of and ahead of it all.

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But I was a teenager once, and curveballs are everywhere. Because all of a sudden, I am not the one choosing all the adventures, they are. And as happy as I am for them, my mama heart hurts every time I need to let go. Every time I need to let go is a practice run for both of us for what the future holds. I think of all the adventures and excitement that await them. I also think about the inevitable mistakes to be made, failures, sorrow, and heartache. A big part of me doesn’t want to let go because I don’t want them to fail or get hurt. But I realize that is part of life, and they will never be able to fly on their own if I don’t let them practice with their wings.

I am currently reminding myself that my role is to give them guidance and support, set rules and boundaries, but not control or coddle. They may choose to break our rules or go outside of our set boundaries. If that happens, they will face consequences at home, and they may face consequences in the real world. When I look back over my life and all of the mistakes and bad choices I made, I do have some regrets, but I know those moments helped me grow and shaped me into who I am now . . . their mom. If they don’t try things on their own, then they can’t fail and they won’t grow.

RELATED: Dear Teenagers, Be Patient While I Let Go

I don’t ever want to look back and think my boys had a failure to thrive because it hurt too much for me to let go. It hurts so much to let go. I know at every turn, at every sorrow and heartache, I will hurt with them. But now is the time to hold on tight with unconditional love while releasing the tether little by little, so when the time comes to cut the rope, they will have the confidence to fly on their own but also know I am their safe place to land. And while I won’t always be the last person they say goodnight to, I will always be the one who loved them first.

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Cari Resnick

I am a wife to my firefighter husband and mom to three growing boys (two teens and a tween), one rescue pup, and two rescue cats. I’ve wanted to be a writer since the third grade. In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, blogging, card making, running, hiking, walking, cooking, going to the dog park, and spending time with my family and friends. I have published two books, Loving You, A Journey Through Forever, co-authored with my sister, and a collection of Poetry titled, The Lord is Good, Poetry, Prayers, and Reflections. I also have stories and poetry in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Just for Teenagers, Mother’s of Angels, Mother’s of Angels Two, In Celebration of Sisters, and Soaring High. You can find me at lifeasafirewife.com or on Instagram at cari.resnick07.

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