The Gift of Letting Go

The Gift of Letting Go

Published Jun 22, 2021

It’s not much to look at now. A pile of wood, faded beams and planks, rusted bolts sticking out in all directions.

Our back yard playset.

We took it down last weekend.

And I couldn’t hold back tears.

Because that playset was once a glorious thing. I remember so clearly the day it arrived—when my three-year-old firstborn sat watching, mesmerized, as Daddy and Grandpa built magic from a palette of freshly stained lumber and some whirring power tools.

From her first step up the clubhouse ladder, that play set was our home.

I pushed my baby in the bucket swing, I taught my growing girls how to pump with their legs and fly higher, higher, not too high please—if you can touch that tree branch then you’ve gone too far.

Summer mornings digging in the sandbox. Afternoons with neighbor friends, playing pirate ship, spy games, gymnastic shows. How many times did my little ones rush down the green plastic slide—back in the years before a harsh winter freeze cracked the plastic, back before the wooden ladder rotted from age and neglect.

Back when that slide was the center of our afternoon adventures and nobody cared yet about apps or summer camp or hover boards.

I know it had to go. Nobody has truly paid attention to the slide, swings, sandbox in years.

But to take away our playset is to say goodbye to a decade of parenting, a decade of blogging about parenting, a season of life in which my girls were small and so much mine.

Next fall, that excited little three-year-old heads to high school.

I swear she was just in pigtails and purple Crocs.

But this is life, this is parenting. We raise them up to let them go.

And my momma heart bursts with a fair mix of pride and nostalgia, both.

I would’ve wallowed in the playset exodus a bit longer this week, but as God will often do, He sent me a line of encouragement—through a dear friend, a retired teacher, our once-upon-a-time nanny, Miss Debbie.

She was part of our family for four years, when my girls were small and the only way I could work from home as a writer was when Miss Debbie was here two days a week to keep the kiddos occupied, supervised, carpooled to preschool and always entertained with crafts and storybooks and trip after trip to that back yard slide, the swings, the lookout tower.

Miss Debbie knew that playset as well as I did.

And when she saw me post a pic of the disassembly on Facebook last weekend, here’s what she wrote.

“Letting go of what was past gives us room to hold the ‘new’ of what lies ahead. Sometimes letting go is so hard…. but not letting go means we cannot hold what is next.”

Oh my.

So true.

“…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b–14)

So. I will not grieve the years behind me {for long}. Besides, I might be nostalgic but I’m not senile. I remember those years were precious but hard.

Instead, I will look forward to what’s ahead. Because if parenting has taught me anything, it’s that each new stage is as beautiful as the last—if not more so, in its own way. Because with each passing year, my husband and I get the privilege of seeing more and more of who God created our children to be. And those people are a gift.

These older-kid years have their perks, after all.

With the extra space in our lawn, our back yard is now a driving range. We’re taking up golfing this summer.

The family fun is just getting started.

And I hope the same is true for you.

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