Love Letter To My Grown-Up Children

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Kaila and Kieran–Austalia, January 2016

Dear Kieran and Kaila,

I hope you don’t mind that I’m openly sharing this personal peek into my heart. I was going to mail this letter, but then I thought about all the other mamas who are where I am or will be one day and I wondered if they needed words to attach to the jumble of emotions that are inevitably part of this “letting go” process.

I can’t believe this moment took me by surprise. After all, I’ve had two decades to prepare for it. Still, it hit me pretty hard that you two are turning 18 and 21 in just a matter of days. The reality of what that means has left me a bit breathless, and to be honest, a lot scared.

I feel like I’m short on time, and I wonder about all the things I left unsaid and untaught and undone. Never did I think it would be so hard. I always thought moms knew instinctively what to do to settle their babies, and to conquer life for their children, and then to launch their adults, ready to face life’s challenges.

But I quickly found out I was not one of those moms!

I was a blundering mom, trudging my way through every new phase wondering what the right thing to do was. I was sure I was going to have to pay for your counseling sessions one day (thank you for sparing me that expense…so far 🙂 ). Every day, I asked God to parent you because I was certain I was messing it all up on a large scale. It’s okay if you agree. You still turned out amazing despite me.

But here I am again.

Kayla's first day in the world--Feb 8, 1998

Kaila’s first day in the world–Feb 8, 1998

Trudging through.

Scared.

Asking myself questions like,

“Did you know how much I loved you or were you unsure of the priorities of my life?”

“Did I hold you enough while there was still time or did I let my to-do list trump my heart?”

“Did I model to you how to love your spouse and live with their best in front of you, or did you see me seek my own way over Dad’s too often?”

“Did Dad and I prepare you to be a servant in your homes and communities by modeling that or did you see too often that our flesh and selfishness took over?”

“Did we authentically live out our faith before you, or did we cripple your faith with our own weaknesses and doubts?”

“Did Dad and I teach you how to really build a life and a home and give you the tools to do it?”

Those questions and more keep wiggling their way into my consciousness and making me feel a sense of urgency at the disappearing days. I can’t take back the years. I can only pause in this blink of a moment to tell you what I hope you already know, but want to make sure you do.

1—I have failed you and will continue to fail you, but God never will. He is a perfect parent who is never too tired to listen, or too selfish to see what you need, or too insecure to handle all your emotions. He is always good, always kind, always right. He will never let you down. Ever.

2—I’m sorry. I am. You know I could list a gazillion ways I got it wrong. I never meant to. I’ve prayed through the years that the scripture be fulfilled that claims, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” If my love isn’t enough, I know God’s is.

3—Love others better than they love you. Love without fear of getting hurt or getting behind. Love when it’s hard. Be the one who says, “I’m sorry.” Be the one who forgives first. Be the one who gives in. It may not gain you the promotion, or the recognition or even any appreciation, but it will allow you to live a life without regret.

4—Be patient with me as I release you. I once was your home. My heart beat to keep you alive. It always will. Only, you’re grown-ups now. You don’t need me for survival anymore, but I’ll forget that sometimes. Not because I don’t trust you, but because I’m learning how to trust you to the One who has been the true Sustainer of your lives all along. It’s hard but I’m trying.

Friends always.

Friends always.

5—I am so, so proud of you. You are amazing. There aren’t enough words to fully convey that to you. Of all the things I’ve accomplished in my life, nothing compares to our family collectively and individually. Not because I take the credit. But because you are evidence of a Living God who can and will do what I cannot. He traded my inadequacies for His sufficiency. I asked Him to parent you and He did. The proof is in the fact that you look more like him than you do me.

So, you two, it is with some yearning that I look back on years that went by much too quickly. But I also look with promise into the future that is before you now. You are ready for it. Be patient if I’m a little behind the curve; I’ll get there.

I love you both so much,

Mom

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Kieran-always a snuggler.

Sweet Kaila.

Sweet Kaila.

10 thoughts on “Love Letter To My Grown-Up Children

  1. Thanks for these words of encouragement, Rita, as I am in the middle of the “keeping my child alive” stage, and preparing for another one in a few weeks. May you feel God’s grace as you release your children into the good works that He’s prepared for them to do.

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    • Thanks Alicia. Isn’t it funny that every stage is full of such bittersweet moments? But one thing I’ve learned is to really love THIS moment. It is too soon gone and we wonder why we were in such a hurry through it. Enjoy these survival years Alicia. They are a precious part of your story, which by the way, is a beautiful one I’ve read at http://aliciayoder.com.

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  2. Rita, I shared your letter on my Facebook page because it was exactly what I needed to read today. My son, Shiloh, will be 18 on June 11th and then graduating high school the next day. I am starting to get some of the feelings that you talk about in your letter. I want Shi to know how important it is to rely on his personal relationship with God and to seek Him first for everything in his life. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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    • Chris, Thanks for that. It was hard to lay all my doubts and fears out before others. I chose to because I know I’m not the only one, and I wanted others to know they aren’t either. This motherhood journey is a tough one and we’re all just doing the best we can where we are, and for me, praying God has the rest :-). With a mama who prays, I’m sure Shiloh will get exactly where he’s intended to be. Love to you.

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  3. Thank you, I had tears reading your words which are exactly where my heart is in this season, grown up daughters, the 20 yr. old “baby” will be moving out soon. This blog encouraged me, thanks for making it public.

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  4. Oh my goodness Rita. I need to cry now. I am so moved. My kids are 12, 9, and 5 and although I have a sense that they will one day grow up and leave, I still feel like we are in a place that won’t change – even though my eldest (son) is as big as I am now but has bigger feet. When I talk to them about their lives someday, when they are on their own, it does start to prick at my heart. Thank you for sharing your words with me about the letting go. I always wondered why my mom cried so much after I left. Now I’m starting to understand.

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  5. Thanks Kim. It’s good to hear from you. I must say I envy the days you still have and wish I (like a gazillion other moms I’m sure) had understood how quickly they passed. I’m grateful I have my 11 and 9 year old to still cuddle and I’m trying to savor every moment. Blessings Kim to you and your beautiful family.

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  6. Rita, I read this post because I wanted to write a letter to my adult and almost adult kids this Mother’s Day and wondered if anyone else had shared one. My goodness! Yours was the first I read and it said EXACTLY what I wanted to say! Parenting is such a humbling experience! Even when you think you are doing right, you may get on the other side and realize you missed the mark. I’m in a season of depending on God daily to cover my mistakes and weaknesses. It’s hard! I do, more than anything, hope that my kids know I was doing my best and trying my hardest to be a good mom. At 26 (and married), 20 and 15, I’ve been in a perpetual state of letting go for 8 years. Not just letting go of kids, but having to let go of a brother, a dad, a mother-in-law and several others. God has been my rock as the sand has shifted! Your post was so encouraging! God Bless!

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    • Debbie, thank you so much for sharing your heart. Oh do I understand entirely. This letting go is just gut-wrenching. It’s hard enough to find the balance in knowing how much or how little to step in, but then we look back and realize how many times we got it wrong. But you know what? I’ve seen that it’s in the mistakes that we most clearly see God’s grace at work. He is able to cover our failures by His goodness and somehow he can even anoint the memories of our children so that what we remember as our failures our children see as our best efforts at loving them. I’m so sorry you’ve had such loss all at once. I pray the Lord wraps His arms of love around you in a way you can feel. Also, Mothers With a Mission has moved to http://www.motherswithamission.org. I try to write there once a week, and would love to have you stop by. If you’re blessed then please subscribe to receive my articles directly into your email box. Hugs Debbie, and enjoy this new stage of mothering.

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