Parents, do you long to stop the train that your child wants to board all too quickly? The one that threatens to take them speeding away from you?
I am a little melancholy on this Mindful Monday. Maybe you are too. In the past few weeks, I have watched my kids go, move, and leave. High school, college, new career, and, pretty soon, marriage. It is a tough transitional season of goodbyes and letting go. I am that woman sitting on the bench at the station watching as they expectantly board trains that will take them on new and exciting adventures.
It reminds of the lyrics to a John Mayer song, “Stop this Train”:
STOP THIS TRAIN
Once in a while when it’s good
It’ll feel like it should
And they’re all still around
And you’re still safe and sound
And you don’t miss a thing ’til you cry
When you’re driving away in the dark
Singing, stop this train
I wanna get out and go home again
I can’t take this speed it’s moving in
I know I can ’cause now I see
I’ll never stop this train
LEAVING THE STATION
I am probably feeling their absence so keenly because they were all home this summer. All my chicks safe and sound in the nest. Wow, did that feel good! But as my husband and I discussed the other night (alone together) at dinner, it will be the last time we will have all four of our children under the same roof together. That makes it real. Real fast.
Although Mayer wrote this song from the perspective of a child growing up and leaving home, I see it from another viewpoint: as a mother watching her children embark on the train of life. And I want to desperately stop the train that I feel is leaving the station too soon.
Being a mother of four, I always used to say that when your child stands at the end of your street with a new school outfit, backpack, and lunch box anxiously waiting for the big yellow bus to take them to school…you can’t stop that train. Oh, you can chase it (as many of us have!) and you can try to slow it down, but that bus represents the beginning of the steady and relentless move toward independence.
I have heard the advice from seasoned parents a million times too: “Enjoy this time. It goes by so fast!” It’s here. It came fast. They all were right. How can the young boy who begged to ride Thomas the Tank Engine be heading off on a real train/car/bus/plane to who knows where? And for how long? And maybe never to come home again except to visit? How can the baby girl who always wanted to be held by her mama have a life of her own? One that leaves little time at home? It happens. You cannot stop the train.
HOLD ON TIGHT
It’s bittersweet for sure. I savored the sweet moments we shared this summer talking, laughing, and just being together. Uncharacteristically, I embraced the noise and the chaos because I knew it would end too soon. Tripping over all the shoes in the garage, loading cup after cup into the dishwasher, shoving past the mounds of clothes piled high in the laundry room…these things (although they still frustrated me at times) were evidence of a full and lively house.
It is going to get quiet around here real soon. The train has left the station. Yes, my countertops will be clear of clutter, my laundry neatly folded and put away, and my hallways free of clothes, shoes, and electronics, but I will be missing the sound of the door banging as they come home late, the endless jokes about The Office, and the music/video games/television shows that provided constant background noise.
Although I may not be like the speed it is moving in; it is also not fair of me to want to stop this train. Their train. Filled with hopes, dreams, adventures. They have places to go, things to learn, and people to meet. That train will take them places I have never been or could never go. And that’s okay. That is the way it should be.
LET GO GRACEFULLY
I also want to let go gracefully letting them know I will miss them but giving them the love, confidence, and support to move boldly forward. I sense a little hesitation in them too. It is not always easy to leave home, try new things, and meet different people.
It is a good reminder for all of us that God is in control of our lives.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
Proverbs 16:9 says that “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
And Psalm 31:15 promises “My times are in your hands…”
So, although I would like to stop this train, I can’t and I won’t. God has brought my children to this moment in time and will continue to guide, lead and direct them each step of the way. And although it might be moving way too fast for me right now, I hope to hang on tight, enjoy the ride while I can, and wait patiently for them at the station.
On this Mindful Monday, I encourage you to try and do the same, dear friends! We are in this together…tears and all.