Giving them roots and wings

Is it possible that in one short weekend our family of five is reduced to three?  Yes.

Friday: All the preparations for our son’s wedding are in place. Tuxes ready; church and reception hall decorated; hair and makeup in place; dress altered. Wait! One last hug, One last piece of marital advice. Can there ever be enough? Are you ready for this, Joe? His sigh says it all. “Yes, mom, please don’t ask me again. I am ready, let me go.”

Saturday: I watch as George loads up his car during a rainstorm to head off for college.  Did you remember everything: books, laundry items, money?  A droned voice, “Yes, mom,” Interpreted, “Mom, I’m 18, let me go.”

Sunday: I feel the emptiness of our tiny house.  Thank the Lord Mary is still with us this year before earning her nursing degree.  However, she feels it too, just the three of us.  “It’s too quiet,” she complains.  I agree. To drown the silence, she even coaxed a stray pit bull to our home in hopes we would adopt it. No chance, I’m not that lonely.   I know though soon she will also say, “Mom, let me go.” I dread the day.

Now what, God? My favorite job – mother – is swiftly coming to a close as I know it. Sometimes it feels like an aching emptiness that won’t subside. Other times like a void. Still at times like fear that my world is changing.

With each day we come closer to the ultimate goal: raising our kids the best way we can, then letting go. I recall 7-year-old Mary learning to ride minus training wheels. Her wise words as I tightly held on to the bike still ring in my ears, “Mom, just let me go.”

Although we do not own our children, it is heart-wrenching when the time actually comes to let them go.  Oh yes, my husband and I are glad we gave them roots to be morally grounded and wings to soar, but it is still difficult.

These words comfort me: “The Lord himself will lead you and be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid,” (Deut: 31:8).

I wonder if Blessed Mother felt this way. Watching her little baby Jesus walk; losing him in the temple; leaving to start his public ministry; and finally – his death and resurrection.  At each juncture, a little part of her heart went with Him. Our “Mom” knew the answer: totally surrender and entrust our children to God.

Mother Teresa also knew it. “Total surrender to God must come in small details as it comes in big details. It’s nothing but that single word, ‘Yes, I accept whatever you give, and I give whatever you take,’” ( These are strong words from a little nun who changed the world.

Now it is time to surrender the big and small details: our adult children and our desire to meet all their needs.

But now, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8).  Many years earlier, I made an offer to God — when I, the clay pot, needed changing, He could break the mold and ‘recreate’ me to his liking. Looks like He took me seriously.

On the upside, I now have a wonderful daughter-in-law and grandson. Our youngest is spreading his wings and soon he will fly. Our daughter also has claimed her independence. I am confident also that God will have a new mission for us. In a way, it is exciting.

Our kids are like boomerangs. We let them go, but they always come back to us – just a little bit differently.

© Mary Mitchell, 2016

Photo credit: Anna Thielen Photography

Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell, from Chicago, is a devout Catholic who likes to mix the divine truth with humor. She thinks it's the only way we can get through this life! Mary is the mother of three and has been married to her husband, Philip, more than 20 years. She has attempted to live the vows as a Secular Franciscan for about 20 years, but has a long way to go.

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