My daughter called from 8,000 miles away recently, to tell me the distress she felt at sending her three-year-old daughter Katherine off to nursery school. It was time for me to tell her how I had felt when she went to school, and how God had taken charge of both our lives.
I smiled when you told me your tale of woe the other day - not because I was unsympathetic, but because I knew exactly how you were feeling. I'd been there, done that, many years ago! Remember?
I know how precious those preschool days are, when there's so much more time to be together, cleaning, baking, shopping, and especially talking! Then, before you can say "chocolate chip cookies," those days have vanished, and you're both having to learn to say "nursery school." You shudder at how swiftly she will get caught up in a zillion things away from home.
Remember that quotation on the wall of my study? "There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children - one is roots, the other, wings." You have established some pretty firm roots, I know; now it's time to let Katherine grow wings.
The process begins in your thought, with a fuller realization of Katherine's spiritual identity. As God's child, she is already securely rooted in His perfection. She is God's spiritual reflection, and, as you once learned in Sunday School, that means that she is always safe, forever innocent. It is time for her to go forward freely, fearlessly, and expectantly. Children will never learn to depend on God, their true Parent, if we allow them, even encourage them, to remain dependent on us. Nor will they discover their own precious individuality, launch out with creative ideas of their own, dream soaring dreams, demonstrate their God-given abilities.
Think of it as an extension of playpen time, when children are blessed by finding out that they can move around and enjoy their own company. We are not abandoning but blessing our children when we allow them to develop as complete expressions of God. If we have clearly demonstrated our love for them and taught them about God's love for them, they will know they have support when they need it.
I know just what you mean when you talk of being so distracted by hysterical sobbing or cries of "Mommy! Mommy!" that you can't pray at all. These sounds resonate like strong winds, earthquakes, even wildfires, in our lives. But it's precisely at these moments that we need to listen, as the prophet Elijah did, for the "still small voice" of God, comforting, reassuring, challenging us to go forward with Him!
As you do, you will be well supported by the best parenting manuals you could wish for: the Bible, and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. As you know, Mrs. Eddy was inspired by the ministry of Christ Jesus. She overcame so many tempests of her own as a mother, and she shared her insights in many passages in her writings.
The Bible, with Science and Health, has taught me that when we move at the impulse of God, divine Love itself, we are blessed with time, energy, and fresh ideas for more than just coping. Through prayer, we can overcome the distractions of a wailing nursery. We can affirm that our loving, caring, patient Father-Mother, God, is in control. No one can ever stray beyond His calming, steadying embrace.
Have fun, Sarah! God is leading you both. And His way is always perfect. Psalm 138 says: "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me" - and you, and Katherine, and all of God's children!
Sarah has since called to say the tears have gone. She and Katherine are growing spiritually every day, and she wouldn't have missed this experience for anything!