Legacy and Letting Go
To paraphrase my friend, Charlie, “Who keeps cuttin’ these onions every time I think about my Senior in high school heading off to college?”
It hasn’t gotten there for me, but with a senior and a junior in high school, the writing is on the wall. But you and I don’t have time for pity parties.
We can get together when the nest is empty, but right now we have children to launch.
So, grab a Kleenex if you must, and let’s get into it!
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Homework: Write the Vision
What principles and character qualities do you want to instill in your children? Because while some days, even seasons of motherhood, feel like torture, the reality is you don’t have much time to train them up in the way they should go.
So grab some paper or your phone and record your legacy vision!
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Episode 41 transcript
When I think of mothers with prolific legacies though on different journeys, women like Hannah, Elizabeth, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, come to mind.
And because I’m not in their league, I question whether I could ever leave a legacy that matters, until I remember the one thing they had in common is what you and I share as well—the reality of letting go.
And the question is, does the inevitability of letting go sober you the way it did them? Join me for a little girl talk on legacy and letting go in today’s episode.
Hey there, Mama Bare. Vanessa here with compassion, candor and clarity for you, the mom figuring out how to hold your child loosely so you can let him go when it’s time.
I’m so glad you’re here because I’m right there with you, girl, and I promise we’re going to make it!
Listen. Welcome, welcome, welcome to Season 5 of the Motherhood Unmasked podcast.
If you’re a regular, then you know I typically take a 10 week break between seasons.
But this one felt so much longer than the others and I think it’s because I gave myself over to the things I encourage you to do—like nurturing myself, giving myself permission to put down busy and appreciate my value even when I’m still, and spending the summer soaking up my children as I enter another cycle of letting go.
At the time of this recording, we’re in the umteenth wave of a pandemic that no one wants to admit we don’t have an answer for.
But we’re at least more aware of how to get together in smaller groups safely.
And over the summer my sista friend, Katherine, brought her grand baby to visit and, girl, that was like an oasis in the desert for this pediatrician.
I’m a sucker for a baby—someone else’s anyway—and Katherine’s granddaughter is as cute as they come.
Now my daughter is her mama’s child, so to say she was excited to have a baby in the house—a girl baby at that—is an understatement because this was her chance to pretend she had the little sister she’s always longed for.
And, girl, we had a time!
So much so, that next thing I knew, my daughter brought down one of her baby dolls she had as a little girl.
Her little chocolate drop named Olivia.
One of those dolls you feed and she wets diapers. You know, that kind.
So, I sprang to action and wiped the doll down with a disinfectant wipe before giving Olivia to baby girl. And you should have seen her face.
Baby girl looked Olivia over with fascination—I assume because she saw the similarities—and gave her the sloppiest kiss only a 9 month old could.
We laughed and enjoyed our visit. And then something happened which didn’t surprise me because I know my daughter.
But looking at baby girl’s affection for Olivia, my daughter gave Olivia to her to take back home to Miami.
My big girl doesn’t play dolls much anymore and she knew baby girl would love her.
We didn’t think any more of it till Katherine started sending us pictures and video of her grand baby with Olivia.
Olivia had sidekick status, whether at the store or during nap time. Olivia was wherever baby girl was. And when my daughter saw that she teared up.
She realized, in letting go, she saw the impact of her kind heart. And every time baby girl remembers where Olivia came from, my daughter’s kindness would be remembered.
That’s my daughter’s legacy.
You don’t see your legacy and its impact until you let your children go and see what stuck out of all you shared with them.
But they’re not baby dolls you outgrow, so letting go part is the hard part.
Imagine being in the mother of Moses, Jochebed’s, position.
Letting go of your 3 month old son to rescue him from danger at your own risk—only to get him back for a short season before letting him go for good.
But you know what? She poured enough into that little man of hers that when he grew up, he had the spirit of an advocate—because she’d been one for him.
And when it was time for him to deliver the children of Israel, God watered the seeds his mother had sown. And the rest is history.
That’s why paying attention to your legacy is so important. Because your children are just passing through you.
As much as you love them, you can’t hold onto them in the way you did when they were infants.
They are here with purpose on purpose and it’s your job as a parent to prepare them for launch.
Now that my oldest is a senior in high school, I’m navigating letting go at a whole other level.
And while change is hard and the emotions are real, what lessens the sting for me is what I’ve taught him and modeled before him—especially my failures and how I recovered from them, and still am.
He and his siblings are growing up and eventually moving on. It’s happening!
There’s no stopping that for me or for you—assuming you don’t want adult children living with you indefinitely.
What you send them with, however, is your legacy—what they caught from you that won’t let them go.
And the truth is you’ve already started letting go because it happens in stages: the teenager disguised as toddler, then the teenager disguised as a tween, before becoming a full fledged teen, and then an adult.
And while it feels like they need you less, they actually do need you, just not in the same way.
They need you to stay present and intentional because you’re in prelaunch mode.
The temptation is to pretend it’s not happening or to smother, I mean mother, them more.
But I encourage you to allow those letting go moments to sober you to the reality that is my motherhood anthem: the hand that rocks the cradle impacts generations.
I don’t know if Jochebed knew that when she gave all she had to Moses for the short time she had him.
But we see the proof of it now looking back at history. And you and I are no different.
You have no idea who you’re raising—who she or he will become. All you know is that they’re not yours to hold onto forever.
So, enjoy the privilege of shaping them before you send them out. Don’t let the sorrow of letting go keep you from preparing them well.
This week’s homework is thinking through and, better yet, writing down your legacy vision.
What principles and character qualities do you want to instill in your children?
You know as well as I do, you can lead the horse to water and while you can’t make him thirsty for it, you do control the water you make available.
So, what do you want to expose your children to in what you teach them and model before them?
Because I have to admit, as present as I’ve been the last 17 years, it’s true when they say the days are long but the years are short.
So while some days, even seasons of motherhood, feel like torture, the reality is you don’t have much time to train them up in the way they should go.
And a vision for your legacy keeps you focused on those days everything in you screams—give up!
I hope this encourages you—especially my Mama Bares with toddlers and tweens feeling overwhelmed with it all and wondering if what you’re doing matters. It does.
Do your best, be intentional and know that love never fails.
And to my Mama Bares with seniors in high school or newly minted college freshman—I salute you.
Look how far you’ve come.
Your kids are the better for having you as their mom and with this new letting go, know you’re not done being their mom.
They’ll always need you, just not in the ways they have before.
If you’ve enjoyed this girl talk, then stop by my virtual home at vinelifefaith.com/podcast.
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I hope your family has a safe and successful school year and until next time, my friend, please remember, when it comes to you being the mother of your children—YOU are the woman for the job. Take care.