So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I saw my oldest son driving down the driveway through my office window. I was in a video meeting, which is no doubt why he didn’t say goodbye.

I thought about texting him to ask where he was going, but did not, because I didn’t want to tempt him to text and drive. I thought about texting his brothers, to ask if they knew, but again, did not.

While I think it’s common courtesy to let people in your household know when you’re leaving and when you plan to be back, it is also common courtesy not to interrupt your mom during a video meeting.

Besides, in nine days, Oldest will be moving to college, 1,000 miles away.

Once he’s gone, I will have no idea where he’s going, who he’s with, what he’s doing, when he’s returning, or why.

That’s an awful lot of letting go.

However, a lifetime of letting go has prepared him—and me—for this time.

Early on with his daycare providers, I had to let him go. I had tried working around him when he was first born, but it wasn’t realistic. I couldn’t work and be a mom simultaneously. It wasn’t fair to my baby or my work.

Later, when I became a single parent. I had to let my oldest and his brother go every other weekend and one night a week to their dad’s house. Their dad had started using alcohol and drugs (which was part of why I became a single parent). He swore he wouldn’t do that around the kids, so, personally, I was relieved when canceled his visitation or no-showed (though I know it was hard on the kids). After the time, Oldest told me, “Dad wouldn’t wake up,” I got the boys a flip phone. Some people judged me for getting a second-grader a phone. Others judged me for not withholding visitation. Not only did I have to let go of everyone’s judgment, but also, I had to let go of my kids every time they were with their father.

Much later, I had to let go as Oldest spent progressively more time away from home at the camp he had attended every summer since he and his brother were six and five respectively; first at overnight camp, then in a five-week leadership development program, and ultimately, when he was 16, for the entire summer as a full-time employee. I saw him some weekends, but not every.

And then . . . he got his license. While it was a relief that I no longer had to drive him to and from the private high school he chose to attend—I got back two hours of my day—I wound up really missing the time we had spent together in the car. The school was just a few towns over, but happened to be across a state line, so that was a whole new world for us. I had to let go of the fact that I didn’t know any of his friends or their families —one of whom he has vacationed with for the past four summers—and sometimes the events he was attending were as many as 30 miles away from home, or in the case of his vacation, 130+ miles away.

I know a lot of parents who put tracking mechanisms in place so they could monitor their kids’ whereabouts at all times. For example, there was the dad who scolded his son for crossing the street in the wrong place on the way home from middle school, and a mom who chastised her son for speeding as she watched his driving process in real-time on a smartphone app. I never did that.

I did ask my son to check in when he got to school the first few times he drove himself. When he forgot, I did not text him. Not right away, anyway. I might have sent him a message when I knew he’d be at lunch. Ultimately, I consoled myself with, “If there was a problem, the school would call.” I had to let it all go.

Letting him go has instilled a sense of confidence in my son. I doubt he would have chosen a school 1,000 miles away if he didn’t feel like he could handle where he’s going, who he’s with, what he’s doing, when he’s returning, or why on his own.

Of course, letting go is not always easy. I invested in waterproof mascara for his high school graduation, and I’ll be packing it for our trip to college orientation weekend. But letting go is essential in order to allow our kids to be fully functioning adults.

And isn’t that our job, as parents?

Caroline Poser

I'm a work-at-home/telecommuting mom of three teenage sons. I ghostwrite blog posts for a worldwide tech company and have some other writing projects on the side. An author of four books, my personal writing has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including the #1 New York Times best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul®.

New Mom, Don’t Be Afraid to Blink

In: Child
Newborn photo in white bedding, color photo

I can barely keep my eyes open and my entire body is shaking from the anesthesia. As they stitch me up from this unplanned C-section, someone brings him to me, wrapped tightly in a blanket with a small blue-and-pink striped hat covering his head. My baby, who I felt growing within me for the better part of this year. My son is here. Blink. He screams with excitement when he realizes he’s no longer holding onto anything. He’s actually doing it. His first independent steps. He can’t keep the huge grin off of his face as he toddles across the...

Keep Reading

Coming Home to Kindergarten

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little boy with green backpack holding man's hand

I’m standing outside a row of heavy, metal doors and tentatively press the bright red “call” button. “Good morning, can I help you?” a bright, cheerful woman’s voice asks. “Yes, I’m here for my registration appointment?” I ask in return, despite the fact that it’s a statement. I’ve chosen to speak it as a question as if I’m not quite sure. Is that indeed what I’m here for? Can that possibly be true? “Welcome! I’ll buzz you right in. You can meet me in the office.” I hear the buzzer sound, the clicks of the lock mechanism unwinding, and I...

Keep Reading

Mommy, Will You Play With Me?

In: Child, Motherhood, Toddler
Mother and daughter playing and smiling

Her little voice sounds through the rooms, “Can somebody come and play with me?” “Honey, just a few minutes, I’m trying to make dinner,” I tell her. “Can somebody play with me, PLEASE?” she calls more insistently. My heart breaks as I think of her believing she simply did not properly formulate the request. She must have been proud to remember the correct way to make a request of someone. Can I really deny her again? If I did, what lasting damage might I do? I hurry, mixing the ingredients and oiling the pan. I do a series of equations...

Keep Reading

He’ll Walk in a Boy and Come Out a Man

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little boy with green dinosaur backpack

It feels like the beginning of goodbye. Oh, sure, my son is still a little boy, but not for long. Not really. His little-boy status is about change. For his entire life, my son and I have spent more time together than apart. He’s eaten lunch with me every day at our well-loved kitchen island. Afternoons have always involved nap time stories and snuggles—at first in a weathered rocking chair and more recently in his big but still little boy bed. He’s always kept me company in the car while waiting for the bell to ring at his big sister’s...

Keep Reading

Today Is the Day Your Hand Is as Big as Mine

In: Child, Motherhood
Little boy with handprint on paper, smiling, color photo

One of the first things I did after having your slippery body brought close to mine for the first time was count your fingers and toes and marvel at every minute detail of your frame. I noticed how long those tiny fingers were and wondered if you may be a pianist one day. But it didn’t matter because you were mine and they were perfect. As I cradled you in my arms and nursed you, I gently held those delicate newborn fingers in my hands. Sometimes, I’d so carefully try to clip those tiny, sharp fingernails before you woke—holding my...

Keep Reading

There’s Just Something about a 4-Year-Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
4 year old girl smiling outside

There’s just something about a 4-year-old. The way their bubbly laughs and sweet little faces still have some traces of babyhood while they’re transforming into more and more of their own unique person right before your eyes.  The way they ask questions about everything under the sun, listen wide-eyed to your clumsy answers, and believe every single word you say. It’s so innocent (and scary) the way they believe absolutely anything you tell them—just because you’re “mommy.”  The way their still-a-little-chubby hand finds yours. And the way they still come running to you for a hug and kiss when they’re hurt. Or...

Keep Reading

Dear Preschool Teachers, I’m Going to Miss You So Much

In: Child, Motherhood
preschool teacher sitting with kids on her lap

Dear preschool teachers, There’s just no other way to say this— I’m going to miss you so much. You are the first adults outside of our family to spend your days with my children, and watching your relationships grow and develop this year has been the most bittersweet privilege. I’m going to miss the bright smiles that light up your faces every time my kids come bounding toward you on good days, and how tenderly you hold their little hands and guide them away from me on the tough ones. RELATED: Dear Preschool Graduate, I’m So Proud of You I’m...

Keep Reading

You’re Graduating From Kindergarten and the First Part of Your Life

In: Child, Motherhood
Mother, father, and little boy in graduation gown, color photo

To my little graduate:  I’m so proud of you. I used to think graduation ceremonies at this age were just a cute, end-of-the-year celebration. Now I see how much they really represent. I watched you in amazement this year. I saw all of your hard work. Not just academically but socially and emotionally as well. You learned to make friends without me there. You learned how to make your place in the world. You have learned to deal with disappointment, stand up for yourself, and the awkwardness of not being friends with everyone. You dealt with teasing because of your...

Keep Reading

He’s Outgrowing My Lap But He’ll Never Outgrow My Heart

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood

He’s five now—my baby, the third of my three children. I feel like I’ve taken the time to enjoy each stage, but no matter how much I try to savor, it still seems to go too fast. Like grains of sand slipping through my fingers—if I try to hold on too tightly, the years just seem to escape faster. We were sitting in church this morning. He had asked to sit in church with mom and dad instead of going to children’s Sunday school. And we let him. He’s gone from a squirmy toddler to a little boy who can...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Don’t Ever Lose Your Helping Heart

In: Child, Kids
Young boy carrying two gallons of milk, color photo

When you carried two gallons of milk on our way out the door at Aldi, I smiled. You insisted to take them from my hands. You’re growing out of your shoes and shirts, and my prayer has always been that you’ll reach your full potential as a young boy growing into a young man.  You’ve always had a drive inside you that is seen big on the soccer field, and I pray you’ll always desire to work hard and serve strong wherever you are. RELATED: Let Us Raise Boys Who Have Respect Running Through Their Veins I pray you’ll work...

Keep Reading