This post could also be called “Untie the Apron Strings so they don’t get Cut”, but I’m sharing these thoughts in connection with Finding the Grace Within’s prompt: Letting Go!
I’m in a season of life where my kids could leave home at any time. Their plans are flexible – they are looking for adventure, change, challenge – they are ready (or some of them that is!) to make their way in the world. Leaving home doesn’t make that happen, but it could be a part of that happening. People are warning me of the pain up ahead – and I’m pushing back!
I’m not pushing back on the kids leaving home – that is a given, that will happen. I’m pushing back on the idea that it has to hurt. We talk about the idea of cutting the apron strings, of letting go – and the obvious conclusion is that it is going to hurt. But what if we untied the apron strings – not so painful after all!!
Letting my children go is a part of my plan: letting go doesn’t have to hurt.
Now, I admit, my kids haven’t left home so this is an unproven theory – but it is the thoughts that are in my heart, and in that sense, the thoughts that are preparing my heart for that day. I don’t want to hurt – I want to rejoice with my kids, I want to set them off with all the hope and joy and confidence that I can give them. I want to revel in their adventures, I want to celebrate their highs, and be enthusiastic about their choices.*
If the truth be known, I’ve been slowly untying those apron strings since my little one started to crawl – letting them move onto the next stage of their life. First, there was crawling and letting them explore the floor, then there was walking and the world opened up for them – this was the beginning! Because next, before I knew it they were going on playdates without me, then they were travelling across the country, and then across the world by themselves. How can I not rejoice with them when I have been teaching, training, preparing them to be able to live responsibly and capably. This is what they’ve been trained for.
Of course, there will be the heart twinge! I will miss my friend (because by this stage, they are my friends), my days won’t be the same – but I don’t want my days to be empty because my kids aren’t around, I don’t want my heart to be empty because my kids have moved on. I certainly don’t want to hold them back physically or emotionally with my own pain. Instead, I want to let them go with anticipation – because they are ready to do the next thing in their life.
Letting go doesn’t have to hurt.
Untying the apron string has been a long, unfolding process – like I said, it started when they were just little, though it has become more obvious in their later teens/young adult years. As my kids have grown older they have:
- Expanded their friend circle to friends that are beyond our family friend circle
- Learnt more than what I could teach them
- Connected with other people who give them wise counsel
- Developed passions that are different than Peter’s and my passions
- Have desires to go places and do things that we would never think of
There is an aspect of ‘letting go’ each time an aspect of their life expands or changes. My involvement in their life changes – I’m still involved, I’m still needed, but it looks different. Leaving home is just the next step for them – whenever and why-ever they take that step. And it is equally true that letting them go is the next step for me.
I think apron strings can be seen in a negative light – they are the bonds of love, or family that limit or control children. And for sure we would all know situations where those apron strings are interfering with family life – and yes indeed, they need to be cut, and it will hurt (both parties) but apron strings are there for a reason – initially they hold our children in a safe place. This is good. But there comes a time where the apron has to come off.
I have this picture of a cook working away in the kitchen, wearing an apron of course, and the pressure is on, the mess is flying, as the day goes the apron gets messier and messier, as hands get wiped, and even the face of sweat and tears are mopped up on this apron – but the end of the day the cooking is done. The cook takes a deep breath, a breath of satisfaction, knowing they’ve done their best, looking forward to their meal being enjoyed. They untie the apron strings, pat their hair into place and step forward with the dish they’ve worked so hard over. They step out of the kitchen to present their dish.
Do you see the analogy? We work so hard with our children, but there comes a time, where we are done and we can take a deep breath knowing we’ve done our best, we take off the apron – we untie those strings that have kept our children safe in our heart, and we step out with them, presenting them to the world! And we wait with anticipation for the world to enjoy them as we do.
Over to you:
How are you approaching the cutting of the apron strings (so to speak)?