One Big Lesson in Letting Go

If I could figure out a way for babies and kids to stop growing just for a minute, I would. But alas, they just keep following time and those growth spurts that make them so sleepy and so very hungry.

I mentioned on Friday that it was a bittersweet process for me to wean Seth. In some ways, I felt completely ready—in others, not at all. I’ve always been fairly sentimental and resistant to change (my first memory of this growing sentimentality was when I cried on the last day of 5th grade because I knew I would miss everyone that summer). I don’t like when people move. I don’t like when good things end. I like everything to stay the same. I’m not much of a crier, but change is something I cry about.

So you can imagine how the whole transitioning into parenthood thing has gone for me. Nothing stays the same with kids for long. Daniel and I have a saying when we have babies: “the only thing constant about babies is that they are constantly changing.” And tired and confused moms and dads everywhere said “amen.”

As I was telling a friend of mine about how much I was dreading the emotional toll weaning Seth was going to do to me, she helpfully said something like “situations like these are good reminders for our kids that we can’t be everything for them.” Essentially, even as I am weaning him I am showing him that his life and sustenance must come from somewhere else—Someone else. I am finite and limited. God is not.

I have been really drawn to the imagery surrounding nursing and motherhood this past year for some reason. Maybe it’s because it’s been all consuming this past year! As I prayed about what weaning Seth would look like, and how I would emotionally prepare for it, I was struck by the parallel between Scripture’s exhortation for believers to mature beyond spiritual milk (1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12), and the need for a baby to mature beyond physical milk. Seth has always been a hungry one, so solids became a necessity pretty early on, couple that with the fact that he wants nothing to do with baby stuff (because he has two older brothers doing big boy things right in front of him) and we were onto real food pretty quickly once he was introduced to them. He needed them. It was time for him to move on. He was done with the pureed food. There came a time where just milk wasn’t enough for him any longer. He wanted meat—literally. And isn’t that such a fitting correlation with our own spiritual maturity? We would be surprised by a first grader still needing only his mother’s milk for survival, and we should equally be surprised by the believer who is still living off the infant stage milk of the world.

Weaning Seth is a reminder that maturation is a good thing. I’m raising him to grow and leave, not stay behind stunted in his growth and food intake. From the moment my children exited my body on the day of their birth, they have been moving away from me, not towards me. Of course, it is in small increments. Praise the Lord I still have many years with them, Lord willing. But it is still one big lesson in letting go. In the same way they must daily learn to depend not on me alone for their needs, but the God who is working through me to meet their needs, I also need to learn that this time with them is temporary. And it will be over sooner than I realize.

As I’ve written before, parenting really is one long goodbye. But life with God is never saying goodbye. Yes, I’m raising my kids to leave me, but I pray with as much fervency as I can muster that they will be found in Him—the One who never leaves us or forsakes us. I’m raising them to depend on God, not me for their very life. I’m raising them to mature beyond what my body can give them, yet know that God will meet every need they have. And I hope that they will come to see that they need God more than they will ever need me.