Monday, March 30, 2009

To My Firstborn in the Wilderness...

When you were not quite three years old we sent you to preschool for the first time. That first week I cried myself to sleep at night, feeling like I’d failed you as a mother. I always thought I could be a total superwoman, running both the office and the house with a small child underfoot. Then as you grew more curious and mobile and independent, after awhile we realized that wasn’t fair to you. You didn’t need to be told “No” and “don’t touch” all the time. You needed freedom to learn and play and grow in a safe environment with more individual attention. You needed to make new friends. And make more progress. So I was entrusting my precious two-year-old to someone else’s care. And it broke my heart.

What happened for you there was remarkable. You were happy. You were social. You loved it. Sometimes you didn’t even want to come home. Our family also became more organized. I wasn’t so stressed. I was able to be more productive at work, so that the time we spent with you after “school” would be more quality time. We took family walks after dinner, and cherished our bedtime rituals. What I at first viewed as tragic eventually turned out to be the very best thing for our little family.

. . . . .

Ironically, sending you off to the wilderness last week felt very much like I felt when we sent you off to preschool for the first time. I know it's a completely different set of circumstances, but as we compared programs and put the final plans in place, I cried my eyes out. And I cried myself to sleep at night, once again feeling like I’d failed you as a mother.

Your teenage years have made you even more curious and mobile and independent, and we saw you frequently flirting with danger. You seemed to be unwilling and unable to tell yourself and your friends “No” and "Don't touch". I couldn't possibly keep an eye on you 24/7. Now, in a similar yet very different way, you need the freedom of the outdoors to learn and grow in a safe environment, with a different kind of attention than we can give. You need to make new friends. And make more progress. So I am once again entrusting my precious son to someone else’s care. And once again, it breaks my heart.

I think what can happen for you in the wilderness will be remarkable. You will be stronger, wiser, and, yes, happier. You already say how much you love it there. There's a power and a presence in the wilderness that is comforting like no other. There is an abundance of the spirit. I feel like this is the very best thing not only for you, but for our whole family. Despite the heartache, I feel peace. We are trying to make progress too, while you are away. And loving you throughout every mile of the journey.

Love,
Mom

And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led. 1 Nephi 17: 13

16 comments:

Kristina P. said...

You are doing the right thing! I work with teenagers just like your son, and so many of them are good kids who make wrong decisions.

My brother went to a 9 month residential program, and came back the brother I always knew, but forgot about.

Hang in there! He will thank you one day.

LexiconLuvr said...

This is so beautiful. I am literally weepy. What a wonderful thing you are doing. I am happy your child is finding God in the wilderness. Sometimes, we just have to get lost before we can be found.
God bless. I'm praying for you.

Heather of the EO said...

I can't imagine the weight you carry in letting go. The one that burdens you with doubt, making you ask yourself if you've done the right thing.

Once you've made the decision it becomes the right one. Was that you that said that to me once?

I think it's true. Because we do the best we can and God takes it from there, working all things together for good.

I just wish things didn't have to be so ugly and hard in the meantime so often. And then I remember they have to be to refine us into the beautiful creature we were always meant to be.

Prayers for peace to you and yours,
Heather

Luisa Perkins said...

We've never met, yet my eyes are welling and my heart is full on your behalf. What a beautiful analogy. My prayers are with you and your family.

xoxoxox

LisAway said...

I love the balance in this analogy. It is so beautiful. I love how different stages of life mirror each other so well. You've captured it perfectly.

The wilderness has been known to change people. Lots of them. :)

Luann said...

I am so sorry for you pain, my friend.

These thoughts you've written down remind me of what our Father in Heaven must feel each time he sends one of us down to our second estate. Our earthly wilderness, fraught with challenges and dangers and all of it so absolutely necessary for us to learn and grow and progress into what he knows we can be.

Kimberly said...

We don't fail them unless we stop loving them. I seriously believe that, trite as it may sound.

And oh, how much we have to love them to let them go like this. My heart is aching for you. ~hugs~

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Great post. Really great. And your last scripture is phenomenal. Didn't you love how in conference we were assured that in these moments of adversity our covenants protect us and give us power?

Kazzy said...

I was a small part of your first letting go. I loved having your little white-haired toddler in my home. He was special then and he is special now.

You did the right thing, and you will not regret it.

I love you.

Debbie said...

What a moving post. I am sure you are so torn as a mother but I think you must be an excellent one.

Eowyn said...

Beautiful post Charette.

Heidi Ashworth said...

So sorry I haven't been blogging the past few days and missed this--glad I found it now! Sigh. I have such mixed emotions about this--it's so beautiful and so close to home. Though my oldest is in a different kind of wildnerness and safe as houses at the same time, I really fear for my bright, curious, charming, smart, handsome, talented and popular little guy. He has the potential to be all that is wonderful or it could all be a such a disaster. I can't wait to see you and give you a great big hug (and a bag of Lindt chocolate truffles). Love you!

Mrs4444 said...

I'm sort of glad it's been a week since you posted this--Now you can tell me how it's been going. Sounds like paradise to me! I hope that he is growing and learning...what an opportunity!

Jessica said...

Ah, now I know why you have come to my mind so often over the past weeks and why I felt compelled to pray . . . I knew that you were still in the storm, and now I know the decisions you were wrestling with . . . can't imagine how difficult these past weeks must have been. I'm glad to hear the peace in your tone, and it must be good to know that he is safe. I think you are so wise, and such a great mom. The wilderness will be a season of change for him, and you are so right to let him find that connection with himself and the wild. Praying God's peace on you and yours. (Missed you!)

An Ordinary Mom said...

This post is heart wrenching. But one can easily sense the love you have for your child, and that is what matters!

Brillig said...

What an absolutely amazing post. My heart is with both of you, my prayers are with both of you. And how you manage to be poignant, insightful, and brilliant when your heart is in such turmoil is beyond me. You inspire me.