Change is hard. As moms, we spend a lot of time encouraging, nurturing, and coaxing our children to be brave in new situations. We take them on adventures to the zoo. We attend music classes together. We introduce new foods. We give our children opportunities to read, learn, and experience life with us. Then they move into the SCHOOL YEARS.
I remember waiting at the kindergarten bus stop with my first-born. I couldn’t speak because of the lump in my throat. I was sure he would have a good day. His teacher was a capable, well-educated woman. He was in good hands. I remember the bus driver just smiled knowingly.
Last week my youngest stepped out of the nest and into a college dormitory. While my head has been preparing for this transition for quite some time, my heart is in a different place. The past eighteen years have been wonderful and challenging for both of us. I was reminded once again, change is hard.
As moms, we spend a lot of time getting kids ready to go to school and cope with separation anxiety but what about us? Children are not the only ones experiencing stress. Just when a parent gets comfortable with the changes in the child’s life, another transition descends. Preschool is often the beginning. The child has not only away from the parent, his primary educator, but experiencing a world with new friends and teachers.
Then there’s kindergarten and we shift once again. As parents we do all that we can to ensure a smooth entry into the big world of elementary school. We repeat the process with middle school and again high school. Separating from the ones we love may sometimes be just as difficult for the parent as the child. The mind says, “Yes, soar with the eagles, do your best, find your God-given talents and make the most of your gifts.” While the heart may be lamenting, “How did you get so big so fast? Where did the years go? It seems like just yesterday you were learning to walk, now you’re driving!” My son commented recently, “Mom, it seems like time is going faster now that I’m older.” I smiled and thought to myself, “Oh baby, you have no idea!”
Learning to let go is a gradual process. Our children learn to be independent, responsible young people as we learn to slowly release the reigns, providing freedom and choice as they mature. Think of it as a dance, sometimes the rhythm allows for fluid movement, other times we are stepping on each other’s toes. Preparing for the next life change is like anticipating the next tune. We continue as long as they are in our arms, lovingly and patiently dancing.
Tips for Mom to Ease Separation Anxiety
• Focus on the child, be it the first day of preschool or the teen’s senior year.
• Make it as seamless as you can by providing unconditional love and support.
• Acknowledge your own feelings but don’t pull your child in. Be calm.
• Exercise, eat well and get enough rest. A bubble bath works wonders too!
• Get involved in other activities outside the realm of your child.
• Get excited about the opportunities just around the next bend in the road for your child and for yourself.
• Thank God for the gift of children.
• Rejoice in the growth, both the easy and the tough love lessons.
• Pray everyday for your kids to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18a).
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
How do you cope with life transitions?
By Becky Danielson
Wife to Scott, mom of two
Licensed Parent & Family Educator
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting
Co-author of The 1 Corinthians 13 Parent Series
Raising Little Kids with Big Love and
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love
both with Study Guides