Lessons from the 1940s - Letting Go

All right, so this is a World War I poster, not World War II, but the message struck me this week. The mother presents her son to Uncle Sam: "Here he is, Sir." Uncle Sam replies, "We need him and you too!"

Forgive me for being sentimental, but this past week my husband and I moved our oldest son into the dorms for his freshman year of college. This is what we raised him for - to become a productive and upstanding member of society. This is what's best for him - to become independent and to fully grow up.

But it requires letting go. It means I don't see his smile and hear his voice every day. It means his peaceful and helpful presence is missing in our home. It means we look for a table for four at a restaurant rather than a table for five.

The entire process of raising a child is one long sequence of letting go. From that first painful push into light and air when we say, "Now you have to breathe on your own and speak up and tell me when you're hungry," we let go and move them toward independence. We teach them to feed themselves and dress themselves and read for themselves. We teach them how to go potty alone and cross a street alone and drive alone. We celebrate each success and grieve a little at what we've lost - the nursing baby, nighttime rituals of storybooks and songs, a chubby little hand in ours.

My son left for college, not war. My sacrifice is minor compared to the sacrifices the mothers of soldiers, sailors, and airmen make. But I can learn from these wartime mothers. I present my son to the world. The world needs his talent and intelligence and kind heart. May he always serve the Lord, and may he contribute well to society.

Labels: ,