Holding On While Letting Go

“Dance with me, Mommy,” said one little boy whose brother quickly echoed, “Me. Too. Please.” My heart is soothed by these words from the lips of my babies. Though they are no longer technically “babies,” as the book says, “forever and always, my baby you’ll be.” And so we sang and we danced, each of them receiving their due turns. We spun around on the hardwood floors, and laughter filled the room—the same room where tear-soaked cheeks and high-pitched screams are often found. These sweet moments are when chaos and crazy cease to exist, and I’m reminded how short these years really are.

One day—probably sooner than I hope—my little boys won’t ask me to dance anymore. And even if they do, I won’t be able to pick them up and hold them in my arms, because they will have grown far too big. Like so many others, I find myself living in the all too obvious place of holding on while letting go. I was reminded of this truth two weeks ago when I joined my four-year-old for the Spring Tea at his preschool.

I decided to leave our one-week-old home with my husband so our oldest would have one-on-one attention and feel delighted. I knew if I brought the baby (whom he adores), all eyes and conversation would be drawn to her. People can’t help but want to know every detail when they see a fresh face. But my little boy didn’t need that. This was his moment to shine and our moment to talk to each other without any distraction.

A stream of little girls in big bows and little boys with disheveled hair came into the room and took their places in front of their “special guests” (mommies). There, my boy stood in his bright orange shirt, just staring at me. He slowly mouthed the words to the songs, beaming with joy. When “You are my Sunshine” began, I could no longer hold back. From the time he was in my womb to every evening since, I have always sung that song to him. To see and hear him sing those words back to me made a mess of this mommy. Afterward, he ran into my arms, gave me a warm hug, and asked to sit in my lap instead of his own seat. What a needed moment for us.

You know where this is going—right? The beautiful ballad abruptly ended when along came a teacher who decided to sit in his empty seat and began wanting the scoop on our new baby—the one I purposefully left behind in order to focus on my little boy. I tried to find the balance between being kind to the teacher while also letting my son know I was there to make memories with him. But, my attempts proved in vain as he bounded from our table and ran to sit with his friend and her mommy.

Oh, how my postpartum hormones needed arms to embrace me and tell me not to take his leaving personally. That didn’t happen, but I did manage to hold back my heartache until we got into our minivan and began the short drive home. While my picture perfect moment with my son was gone, a picture perfect moment with my Creator God began. The arms I desperately needed to pick me up and remind me of truth captivated my weary soul. In no time at all, I was reminded of so much.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18

1) My baby boy doesn’t belong to me—he belongs to God. I know this. I believe this. But I needed the reminder that as hard as some days will be, I need to trust in God’s plan for these children rather than my selfish wants.

2) One day, he will leave—whether for college, marriage, or even his eternal home. I don’t know what the Lord has purposed for these little lives He created. But I know it is for their good and His glory. No matter what the road ahead looks like, I need to prepare them (and myself) well for the day they will leave.

3) If he marries, he will lead someone else in a dance, and that woman won’t be me. I want both of our boys to grow into godly men who love and lead their wives and families well. They should leave and cleave. And hopefully, I will allow them to leave and cleave knowing they were prepared—and so was I.

4) The sacrifice of Christ on my behalf should put everything else in perspective. No greater gift was given, and no greater love can be found than that of Jesus. He is who my children—His children—will ever need to embrace.

As I turned the key in the front door, my tears left almost as quickly as they began. I told my little boy how much I loved him, how much I enjoyed spending time with him, and how proud I was of him. He ran to his daddy and told him all about the songs he sang, the icing he ate off his cupcake, and the plastic butterfly ring he gave me to wear. I listened and thanked God for not only comforting me, but giving me the honor of comforting these children for however long He allows. The reality is, no matter how much I want to hold on forever, the song will end and the dance will change. The good news is, there is always another melody, and while I may not enjoy it as much, it will be there to embrace and invite me into a new dance. And I will always have the arms that created me waiting ever so patiently to guide my steps in His perfect order.

In His Love,


GabbieAndBoys Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.

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