My five-year-old daughter begins kindergarten this month. This means my cautious, anxiety-prone, oldest child starts a new adventure in a new school building with new friends and a new teacher. For the first time, she’ll be away from her little sister and away from me for six hours a day, five days a week.
She has become increasingly clingy since preschool let out for the summer, but it’s hard to say which one of us is more nervous about this transition. Like her, my cautious, anxiety-prone firstborn self has some concerns. Will she like her teacher? Will she make friends who are kind? Will she have enough time to eat lunch and play on the playground each day? Will she be safe but also have fun?
It’s a good school—a highly rated school in a nice, suburban neighborhood. Yet when I picture my easily frazzled, perfectionist firstborn daughter navigating a brand-new experience, my mothering instincts kick into overdrive, and my emotions sometimes override my logic.
This is a new stage of motherhood, a new stage of independence for her and for me, and, yes, I know it’s only the beginning.
Parenting is a funny phenomenon. I believe it teaches us how God views us as his children. He desires to guide us daily, to protect us from harm, to wrap us in his infinite love and wisdom and keep us safe, but yet he allows us to make our own decisions. He lets us make mistakes and then uses them to develop our character and mature our faith.
We all want our children to grow up to become self-sufficient adults—responsible, wise, and courageous—but I think we also want them, on some selfish level, to continue to need us, to keep coming back to us for guidance, reassurance, and love as they get older.
The truth is, the goal isn’t for our children to depend on us but for them to depend on the Lord. We are tasked with training them to trust God, not us, in every situation, with all their fears, doubts, and anxieties, and we are tasked with modeling what it looks like to trust him through every challenge.
As my daughter clings to me for reassurance and preparation for her new adventure this year, I am openly clinging to his promises for reassurance in preparation for my own new adventures—for writing and marketing books, for traveling alone and public speaking, for navigating another chapter of dementia care and inevitable loss.
When worry and grief threaten to defeat me, I continue to look to the Bible for hope and truth:
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” (Isaiah 41:13 ESV)
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:5 ESV)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6)
I pray, and I meditate on his Word. I listen and belt out Nichole Nordeman songs with my girls in the car.
Each day, I seek to fill my soul with reminders of his faithfulness spoken out loud in front my children. I want to be honest about my own fears, anxieties, and challenges, and I want to show them the source of my courage.
Lauren Flake writes about her journey as a wife, mom to two little girls and Alzheimer’s daughter in her native Austin, Texas, at For the Love of Dixie. Her first book, Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go? was published in 2016. She thrives on green tea, Tex-Mex and all things turquoise.
Photograph © Lotte Meijer, used with permission