Back to School: Another Lesson in Letting Go, by Mara Spiropoulos

For the first time, my house is feeling a bit empty. We were blessed with the opportunity to send our two older children, Ellia (newly 5) and Lincoln (my almost-4 Michaelmas babe), to the school of our dreams – Prairie Hill Waldorf School. Though this entails more financial cutbacks in our home and a lengthy drive to and from school daily, it is worth that and more to us. We fell in love with this school many years ago and now feel so humbled that our children are among those who attend. That said, it has not been an easy transition for any of us.

Since exiting the womb, Ellia has been at my side. Lincoln has been a bit more independent but also tends to follow his big sister’s lead. Fortunately, we were able to enroll both children in the same multi-age kindergarten, easing the transition from home to school. The first day of school came and many tears were shed by all of us. The week prior to school starting, we got some sort of sickness involving congestion, goopy eyes and coughing. So we were feeling a bit yucky, not sleeping well, and also feeling anxious about school starting. Needless to say, the first days of school were rough on mama and the kids. It’s getting better, thankfully.

I am coming to the slow and bittersweet realization that becoming a parent is a long lesson in letting go. Letting go of who you were in order to become this person that cares for others selflessly. Letting go of some of your passions and dreams to make room for more meaningful ones that include all of the family. Letting go of your children day by day…letting them go to school and learn to trust another adult, their peers and the wide world. Letting go of what you thought motherhood would be to allow the reality of motherhood to overcome you – sleepless nights, worries, dreams, never actually getting a break from being a mom, and the realization that you can love someone so much it truly hurts. There is fear and sometimes pain in letting go, but I know deep in my heart that the more I let go, the more I will find peace and joy.

Those first days of school were so hard I barely wanted to continue. Doubt crept into my vulnerable mind – did I push them out of the house and into school too early? Am I traumatizing them by leaving them with practically strangers each morning? Can I continue to do this if there are tears every morning? Then, bit by bit, it got better. The teacher, whom we all love and I now hold so dearly in my heart, told us that both children were doing great and playing heartily when I wasn’t present. The weekend after the first week of school, my shy, reserved Ellia talked and made up a game with a stranger at the park where we were playing!! The second week of school resulted in two days of zero tears and actual smiles on their faces after I had given them “fifty seventy-five” hugs and kisses before leaving! I am blown away and my heart is rejoicing.

Yet, still I feeI more letting go needs to happen. Now, it seems, they are settling into the new rhythm. Slowly, I will too, here at home with only my youngest, Adella. I have to let go of my children physically to allow them to grow and learn in a place we all love. I also have to let go of my insecurities in knowing that school is likely giving them a better rhythm to their days than I ever was able to do. Rhythm doesn’t come easily to me. I have a thousand things on my “to do” list each day that pop into my head sporadically, and I choose from this list in a scattered manner. I try, really hard, to create a weekly list of chores, one in which I do the same chores on the same days each week. I stick to it for a bit, but soon feel stifled. So I resort back to what I know and like – doing things “my” way. It may not be perfect or “LifeWaysian”, but it’s my way and, heck, I’m sticking to it! But this makes me feel a bit inept as a mom, for I could not create that wonderfully rich rhythm I know they need. Then I remind myself, it takes a village – right? Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could return to the times where we all helped each other raise our children? Then we wouldn’t all be left feeling like inept mothers, trying wholeheartedly to become “supermoms” who can do it all with a smile on their faces. We are giving our children this gift of school to help them with some of the things their parents are not as great at. We all work together to create a community where we all thrive.

So I’m starting again to let go more and more. I’m letting go of things in my home that we don’t need to make room for other treasures life has to offer us. I’m letting go of things we purchase each month to cut back on spending. I’m letting go of my kids each day as they go to school. I’m letting go of some of my harshness on myself and letting in some peace in knowing that my kids are happy, healthy and growing in an environment we love and cherish. I’m letting my kids go a bit, moment by moment, so they can become the wonderful, crazy, beautiful people they are destined to be. And by doing so, I get to start this next journey of finding out who I am in addition to being a mother. Wish me luck!

In her new life, Mara will be stepping down as the blog coordinator and parent voice for the LifeWays North America blog–but still contributing about her journey. She is a recent graduate of the LifeWays training program, resides in Milwaukee, WI, and is a full-time mother to 3 young children. Mara enjoys spending time in nature, reading and researching natural parenting and living, and crafting.

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