With his small hand reaching out to be held and his blue eyes looking up, he asks, “I go with, Mama?”

I’m standing at our front door, bag in hand, ready to leave. I can see his concern as his lip quivers and a tear forms. My 2-year-old, Isaac, doesn’t hesitate to try and join me wherever I’m going. I haven’t mentioned where I’m headed or what I’m doing, only that I’m leaving. In a few moments he’ll see only the closed door while I enjoy a few hours to myself. I look him in the eyes and say, “I’ll be back. I love you.”

I have two children under age 5 and, at this stage of parenting, there’s so much to teach and model: caring for others, saying “please” and “thank you,” picking up toys, expressing feelings, sharing and listening. Ultimately, I hope that in all the ways I interact with my children, they know they are loved and safe. My son wants to accompany me out the door because I’ve earned his trust, which will help us navigate holding on and letting go through the different seasons of our lives.

Daily we get opportunities to practice holding onto and letting go of our children.

With my children, this often looks like helping them climb at the playground and watching them stumble on their own, dropping them off at day care and preschool, and observing them as they learn healthy relationships with their friends. This time of year typically means graduation season, but nothing is certain in light of the coronavirus pandemic. (As I write this, many schools are suspended.) Still, I can’t help but imagine that milestone for my children. One day they’ll begin to drive, discover new interests and relationships, and discern plans for after high school. When that time comes, I hope I’ll remember the power of offering them my blessing wherever they go.

Daily we get opportunities to practice holding onto and letting go of our children. Sometimes it’s for a few hours, when we leave them with a sitter, and other times it’s watching them walk out the door with friends. I anticipate a few more years of my son reaching out his hand and asking, “I go with, Mama?” Inevitably, though, I’ll be reaching my hands to him. Together we’ll reach toward each other, trusting that God is with us, blessing us through life’s seasons.

Practices

Write a family blessing together that you can recite when you leave your home or embark on a big transition. It could be as simple as “God loves you.” You might even write numerous blessings on slips of paper and display them in a prominent spot, such as a “blessing wall” or door.

Grab a Bible and together read about God’s people beginning a new adventure. Start with the book of Ruth, Esther, Exodus or Acts. Talk about how God shows up—often in surprising ways—to bless God’s people through times of change.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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