It’s not always easy to let your children spread their wings. A mom of four shares on the parenting decision that not all her peers understand and the surprising ways her family has grown as a result.
We had four children in just over seven years. And luckily, they aren’t just close in age; they are close in their relationships with one another. We do everything we can as a family to foster and encourage that bond.
I’ve always wanted a big family and can easily imagine a scene like the ones in the movies or on the TV show Parenthood—a chaotic jumble of grown-up kids lining either side of a dining table, with all the extra loved ones they bring with them joining the fun.
For now, we gather around a chaotic kitchen table littered with plastic plates and spill-proof cups. My vision of a dining room table of grown-up kids seems so far away, and that’s okay with me—I’m in no hurry for them to grow up and leave home.
And yet, this year, on the night before the first day of school, I lined backpacks up by the door and placed a suitcase for our twelve-year-old daughter at the end of the row.
It wasn’t an easy decision to let her accept an offer to a school for the arts in the big city. She lives on campus five days a week (and thanks to a manageable commute, spends most weekends at home). She auditioned and worked hard for that offer and has been given the incredible opportunity to pursue her dream.
But there would be hard work for our family, too. Not only would it impact the way we parented her, it would also affect our relationships with one another. All six of us had to take a leap of faith and believe that distance would only strengthen the bond we have. And, indeed, it has.
Each weekend, she easily slips back into our family routines, except now there’s a new sense of joy and appreciation—both from her and us. And as much as her younger siblings have learned to step in and fill her big-sister role when she’s away, they also give her space to come back when she’s here. They have grown tremendously from that compromise and each one of them has found new ways to shine.
This isn’t the scene I imagined for our family, but it is an important chapter in our story. If there was any worry that letting her go would weaken our family’s bond, it’s gone now. We know now it was our bond that gave her the courage to leave and us the strength to watch her go.
This is #1000families post number 77. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.