Milestones-Letting go of our children

lBUgcP1441883425This is a time of year when many of us are made particularly aware of the continual process of letting go of our children. As they grow and develop we have to let them do more and more themselves. Whilst this is always happening there are key times when it becomes increasingly apparent. These are the moments when they reach milestones in their lives, when they do things they have never done before like starting preschool or school or moving up a year.

These milestones make us really look at our children and realise how fast they are changing. They make us think ahead, about how different again they will be in 6 months or one year down the road. The realisation of how quickly time is moving and they are changing is very sobering.

More often than not these changes are a new freedom for our children, but for us as parents there is a loss in watching them step from one phase into another. We know that we will never get back the time that has gone. They have moved on, grown up.

As parents we can feel loss as our children step from one stage to another Click To Tweet

And it is not always at those big milestones that we feel this loss. It may be the first time when they go into class without a backward glance or a day when they all of a sudden have grown out of something they have always done. The moments with our children are precious to us, yet we can’t hold on to them. Time passes and our children change and an amazing rate.

Maybe it is so poignant for us not just because we know we will never have that phase of life with them again but also because it makes us notice the passing of time. As parents we have so much to fit in to the hours we have, yet we are aware of time flying by faster than ever.

Adding to that, we also have concerns for our offspring as we let go of them. Will she manage? Will he have anyone to play with? What if something goes wrong? This makes the letting go harder for us.

However, for all the trepidation for our children and loss for ourselves, there is also a great pleasure at their growth.

Watching our children grow and discover themselves, is a joy Click To Tweet

They are developing into being their own independent person. It is a joy to see. Watching them gradually expand their capabilities, then go off and navigate the world more and more, making their own decisions and forging their individual path (whilst at times scary) is amazing to watch. We can feel pride and share in their excitement at their discovery of themselves in the world. It is what parenting is all about.

So today my thoughts are with all you lovely parents out there who are witnessing your child expanding and entering a new phase of life. And to any parent who just can’t quite believe the age and achievements or capabilities their children have, wether they are 6 months, 6 or 16 years old.

Are you noticing your child growing up? What have they done that is new recently? Have they entered a new phase of life and how has that felt for you? I would love to know. I reply to all comments.


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78 thoughts on “Milestones-Letting go of our children

  1. Those milestones are so bittersweet – there is the joy of seeing them do something new but the sadness at another phase that has now gone too. I’ve been feeling this a lot this week with my eldest daughter turning 4. Thank you for sharing and articulating what many of us are feeling, particularly at this time of year.
    Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) recently posted…The fear that lurks withinMy Profile

    1. Hi Louise. Bittersweet is the perfect word. Four years old is such a great age but they really do change so quickly. Thanks for commenting. Kirsten

  2. Lovely post. My daughter is off on her 1st camping trip with Brownies in a couple of weeks and I’m having to bite my tongue every day to stop myself asking ‘are you sure you want to go away all on your own – what if you need me?’ Think its pretty clear which one of us is the needy one! #PoCoLo
    Sarah recently posted…Pin-Tested! Bleaching Pine ConesMy Profile

    1. Hi Sarah, This is making me smile as I know exactly what you mean. My son if off on his first trip too and whilst I don’t feel the need to ask him I am very aware that the trepidation is mine, not his. I will keep it that way!! I hope she has a great time and comes back brimming with confidence. Kirsten

    1. Yes Lisa, you are so right. At the heart of parenting is letting go. It is not an easy one to do. Thank you for your kind words. Kirsten

  3. The Tubblet started secondary school this week and I was so proud of the way she’s dealt with a new (massive) school and a bus journey too and from. It’s a weird one, you want them to grow up and be independent but another part of you still wants to be needed.

    Thank you for another wise post. I always learn something new and positive when I come here!

    1. Hi Mrs Tubbs, I so agree and you make a very insightful point about being needed. some of the loss is about the gradual erosion of being the centre of their world. It is a great 9but exhausting) place to be and it is hard to let it go. Thanks for your thought provoking comments and your kind words. Kirsten

  4. I think this happens at the beginning and end of every school year and also at every birthday. These are the times that I sit back and reflect on all of the changes that each of my boys have made. My oldest is in his last year of middle school and I know how fast this year is going to go, then I will have a high schooler! This is both exciting and terrifying. I have seen him make so many changes in just the last couple of months and I have already heard from some of his teachers how many changes they have noticed in him since last year. They tell me, “he is so much more mature now.” “he is really taking in our advice to him and acting on it.” While I am so very proud of him, it is also bittersweet because he’s not my baby anymore. I still have one more child left but he too, has mad a lot of changes – great ones! Great post Kristen! thanks for sharing!
    Michelle recently posted…Quick and Easy Beef Pot RoastMy Profile

    1. Hi Michelle. My eldest is one year behind yours from the sounds of it and at this stage there is a lot of letting go to do. They are really stretching out and needing to discover themselves as a person. It is bittersweet and if you are anything like me, a bit surreal at times. Thanks for sharing. Kirsten

  5. My youngest just turned three, and actually this is the first birthday I’ve not felt sad about. Of course I miss all that has come before, but his development is so exciting to see that I’m enjoying living in the moment.

    My older son is 13, and although I stopped feeling sad at his birthdays when he got to about six, I’m starting to mourn his younger years again as he becomes more and more testing and difficult. In some ways I’m actually wishing the time away to when he comes out of the teen years!
    @SarahAnneDG recently posted…Now you are threeMy Profile

    1. Hi SarahAnne, We don’t miss all phases. Some are just hard and we feel relief when they are out of them. For me personally those moments of loss are not on birthdays because I get so excited for them too but it creeps up on me occasionally when I am struck by how much they have changed and how far they are from my little boys that thy once were. Good luck with the teenage years! Kirsten

  6. It has been a bittersweet week. My youngest started school without even a backwards glance, which I was proud of but also a little sad about to. You still want to feel needed I think? It can be tricky getting the balance right.

    1. Oh yes. I remember it well. It is so bittersweet. I think starting school is one of the biggest milestones in their lives. You do still want to feel important. For so long we are at the absolute centre of their world and so we really notice even the smallest shift. However you will adjust and as you said you will be so proud. Thanks for commenting. Kirsten

    1. That is a huge step and one that I am so far from I can’t imagine. It is the ultimate letting go but I would also guess that you are incredibly proud of her. hope it goes well. Kirsten

  7. Oh this is such a great post and one that I really needed to read. Our twins started nursery last week – only a few hours a day, but I’m struggling to adjust. It feels bizarre. I don’t like the quietness when they’re not around and I hate leaving their teary faces at nursery. I cried when I dropped them for the first time and it’s not getting easier. Thanks hun. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky
    Emily recently posted…Craft Piggy Bank Competition EntryMy Profile

    1. I really feel for you Emily. This for me too was a really tough stage. We know that it will be good in the long run but it is hard to believe when they are upset or looking lost. To top it off we know that we could happily have them with us which makes it even harder. Hang in there. It will get easier particularly once you see them settle. Then there will be a little time for you. Kirsten

    1. Thank you Victoria. It is great to know what parts of a post actually ring true for people. We have a changing perception of time as we age and I think children actually add to that. Thanks for commenting and hosting. Kirsten

  8. It’s definitely bittersweet seeing our children grow up. I remember how proud I was when Emma first bum shuffled away from me with out as much as a look back at me, but it also broke my heart that she didn’t need me like she used to #sundaystars
    Emma’s Mamma recently posted…18 months in picturesMy Profile

    1. I really get that. Pride and pain. It happens right through parenting. the happiness wins out but those moments are quite poignant aren’t they? Thanks for your comment. Have a great week. Kirsten

    1. That is one thing for sure Rachel, that motherhood keeps us learning. It is such a huge milestone to have a child starting school. And at the other end of the spectrum to have a child pushing for independence is yet another challenge. The push for freedom from our older children happens at quite an alarming rate. You might like my post next week which is targeted more towards the challenges of children growing up and wanting freedom. thanks for sharing. Kirsten

  9. This is such a lovely post. My daughter is nearly fifteen months old and is becoming such an independent little one, I can’t believe that she would be so early on. Naive I guess. But I know that we have so many other milestones throughout her life that we will go through. But its quite hard to let go now I can’t bare thinking about her first day at school I have a little while yet 🙁 But time does really does fly by so fast. Thank you for this post! x
    Mimiroseandme recently posted…SEPARATION ANXIETY SUCKS!My Profile

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. It is amazing how time flies and we see it in our children so clearly. I used to think ahead like you but I have learnt not to (or at least to limit it) because our children change so much we just cant perceive how they will be at the time. We still feel a loss at their growth but more often that not they are ready for a change. Kirsten

  10. My children are both still tiny but I already struggle with this. I get sad every time they grow into the next clothes size and I have to box up all the little clothes that they’ll never fit into again. On the other hand, watching them grow and develop is such a wondrous, joyful thing. You have captured it perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Kim. What you have said is so true and so strange. The days are long and the years do fly by. It is worth remembering. Thank you for your inspiring comment. Kirsten

  11. I have been thinking about this a lot lately…before having kids I thought the letting go stage happened age 18? 21? 30? But actually, the process starts a lot sooner than I thought! Letting them be looked after by someone else, letting them run on the big kids section at soft play, them being in their bedroom playing happily; they all unravel the feeling of total protection that started the moment you first laid eyes on your newborn. But, ultimately, I do believe it’s a healthy thing for all of us! Thanks for a great read. MMT x #babybrainmonday
    mummuddlingthrough recently posted…Our big build part 2; Packing, Picking and PanickingMy Profile

    1. What a fabulous point. Thinking about it I sort of imagined that too and had no idea that it was a continual and ever increasing process. Thank you so much for your insightful comment. You really made me think about my expectations versus the reality. Kirsten

  12. As a non-parent, can only imagine the mix of bitter sweet emotions of watching your children grow. I imagine it to be sad in one sense, as they aren’t babies anymore, but I also imagine a certain proudness as your child grows up and develops their characters more and more.
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes
    Random Musings recently posted…How To Keep The Spark Alive On A BudgetMy Profile

  13. I often find myself saying to my daughter (12) who are you? Because the little girl I remember throwing a tantrum because she wanted to read longer with me is now off writing essays and interpreting the world through her own eyes. I love watching them grow and achieve but like anything the flip side is tinges of sadness as they move forward and need us less and less. But I love it that I will always be their mum and they will always be my kids. Ain’t love grand! Mel xx #AnythingGoes
    Melanie Greenhalgh recently posted…Driving Mum HomeMy Profile

    1. Hi Melanie. You describe the conundrum of parenting so well. Love is grand, challenging and worth it. Thanks for sharing. Kirsten

  14. I noticed a huge change when the boys each went up to collège (secondary school) and I also realised how much less I knew about their day. But to watch 2 confident boys head off each day with not much of a backwards glance means I know they are happy in their lives.
    Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault recently posted…Animal Tales 39My Profile

    1. Hi Rosie. I found it strange too when I realised that I knew very little about my boys day (What did you do today? asks an interested Mum, answer ‘Don’t know’) and I imagine that this will continue as they get older. It is great to hear you talk about your confident happy boys that are getting on with their lives. I like the sound of that. Thanks for commenting. Kirsten

  15. My son tends to not develop for a whole and then suddenly take a massive leap. He’s a summer baby, so he’s struggling with school at the minute (he’s just started reception), but I’ve already started noticing changes. He is saying different phrases which he has obviously picked up from the teacher. He is starting to draw (something he would never do before).
    It’s lovely to see him growing and learning more about the world. But it’s also sad to see your baby disappearing before your eyes. Thankyou for a lovely post #TwinklyTuesday
    Louise Rodgers recently posted…Screw You Scooby DooMy Profile

    1. Hi Louise. I know what you mean. Rather like growth spurts where they physically shoot up, they have development spurts where they charge ahead. School is a big turning point for children and it is, like you said at once amazing and sad to have so much learning and development come from other people. Thank you for commenting. It sounds like he is doing really well. Kirsten

  16. When my little boy started primary, I felt a mixed emotions, I felt happy for him stepping his big milestone, but at the same time, I felt a little bit sad because soon enough he won’t need me anymore. But yeah! we need to let them go and let them develop themselves as a unique individual that we want them to be. #mummy&us

    1. Yes the loss we feel is temporary because we know that it was what we and they actually want in the long run. Thanks adding your ideas to the discussion Cheryl.

  17. My eldest boy will be reaching another milestone next month, 21 years old. It seams though no matter how old they get, they will always be your babies and they will always need their mum in one way or another #wineandboobs

    1. I am glad to hear that they still need us in some way. My boys are much younger and I can;t imagine that age as yet but I know it will come quick enough. Thanks for your reassuring comment. Kirsten

  18. I think you have just written my post! 😉 My boy just started Reception School. He hasn’t made friend within his class yet, only with pupils in bigger classes. I worry because he is a shy boy when making new friends. But it has only been a week. I will take time I suppose. I just need to keep an eye on him. Mother instinct. #MyFavouritePost
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn} recently posted…Book Interview Review #9: Little Lou and the Wooly Mammoth by Paula BowlesMy Profile

    1. I was in a similar situation and it is not east letting them go and trusting that they will find their own way. As mothers we need to watch and make a judgement call as to when we need to step in and that is not easy. What I have found amazing over the years is actually discovering ow much more capable my boys are than I guessed. If your son is an introvert though he will need time to assess the people around him and make his move. Best of luck being a new school Mum and I hope he settles in soon. Kirsten

  19. A lovely post Kirsten – I’m noticing my 2 year old advancing so much as she grows further into a little person and although I do take great joy in it, and look on with wonder and awe, I do also have a little pang in my tummy about it all…#MMWBH

    1. Hi Talya. It is a surprise sometimes. there are days that take so long and stages that we think will never pass (that we would happily see the back of) an then all of a sudden we look and see that our children have changed so much. ‘Pang’ is the perfect word here. That is how it is for me. Kirsten

    1. You are so right. It is bittersweet but overall we know that what is best fro them is to progress. thanks for hosting. Kirsten

  20. A nice but scary post!

    There are several ways you can look at different stages of development. But no matter how you look at it, we are all growing up and reaching different milestones in our lives. That in itself creates more memorable occasions that can be both good and forgettable.

    I now just think that with each year that passes, a new opportunity comes their way.

    Thanks for sharing #wineandboobs
    Martin – At Home With The Boys recently posted…Halloween Ideas NeededMy Profile

    1. Me too. It is a good thing to acknowledge that feeling of loss but for most of us it is fleeting because what we actually want is to see them and ourselves progress. It outweighs everything else. Thanks for your comment Martin.

  21. Oh what a beautifully written post. I could feel a tear forming as I read and nodded along reluctantly with your words. It really is bittersweet isn’t it. Thx so much for linking up with #SundayStars. Steph xxx
    Steph recently posted…My Life Lately…My Profile

    1. Hi Steph. I am glad it touched something real in you after all that is what blogging is about for me, writing to touch a truth in someone else. It is genuinely tough in those moments of realising that time is passing and our children are growing but then of course we also feel that joy because growth and development is what we want for them. Thank you for sharing. Kirsten

    1. Hi Nicole, I know what you mean. That feeling reminds us to cherish the time we have because it is going so fast. I hope it all goes well with your son. Thanks for commenting. Kirsten

  22. It’s such a catch 22. I love watching them so excited about something new and I am actually enjoying my few hours completely kid free but at the same time I know the next milestone of parenting will be graduation. But that’s life. And every year that I get to enjoy of it I am going to embrace. Thanks for sharing with #momsterslink.
    Trista recently posted…Foodpornthursdays #19 ~ September 17, 2015My Profile

    1. You are right Trista. We need to embrace the time we have and actually those pangs of loss and noticing the speed they are growing up make me (and other mothers who have commented) embrace the time with our kids even more. I am so glad to hear that you are enjoying the extra time you are getting. It is great to discover a bit of space for your own activities and thoughts. Thanks for your comment. Kirsten

    1. It is such a double edged sword isn’t it. Mostly we are proud and amazed at their development but like you said ‘some days’ we would rather slow the progress. Almost every Mum I speak to has felt this to some degree. Love and loss are tied together but it is the right type of loss, it is the loss of a stage because they are growing and developing into being the people they can be.

      Be kind to yourself, I think this adjustment is just as hard for Mums as it is for the children starting school. Thanks for sharing Mackenzie. Kirsten

    1. Hi Meredith, I love your sentence ‘I want to hold on to her forever, and I want her to fly as high as she can’ as this encapsulates so well the feelings of many mothers that I have interviewed. There are two forces at work and we need to navigate our way through them which is not always easy. Thanks for your beautifully worded comment. Kirsten

  23. Kirsten, I had read this post the day after writing one that was about my absolute feeling of loss for the time I have missed out on Zach because he is growing just to fast. I’ve been feeling it for a good week or so now and have been really struggling with it. It’s not that I don’t want him to grow because every day he just becomes even more of an awesome person but it’s the loss I feel at having not spent enough time with him because I have to work. It is so bloody hard and a horrible thing to have to deal with. Thank you for writing and sharing this post, it’s one I really needed to read 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday
    Lisa (mummascribbles) recently posted…Why I’m so weepy!My Profile

    1. Hi Lisa, I am glad this was relevant to you. It is such an emotional thing on so many levels to watch them grow up, amazing and sad. Like you said ‘every day he just becomes even more of an awesome person’ but there is the others side for us. It is our feelings, not theirs. Children are quite happy to grow and expand but we notice the time passing and realise that they are changing so much. I will go over and read your post. Thanks for commenting. Kirsten

    1. Hi Sandy, I always find it so reassuring to hear. To know that it is still a joy when they are much older brings a lot of comfort. It is my experience of course. My boys are just as wonderful to me now as they have ever been. Thank you for your reassuring comment. Kirsten

  24. Gorgeous post. As a Mother to five I have watched and am watching each of the younger children grow and grow to no longer need me as much as they once did. So now I’ve noticed myself holding onto my toddler and hope and pray and wish that she decids to not grow up afterall! Lovely post, thanks so much for linking up to #MMWBH
    Debs @ Super Busy Mum recently posted…The Big Alphabet Puzzle Review!My Profile

    1. Hi Debs, Thanks for your comment. I know what you mean. We can react differently to our youngest because particularly when we know that we wont have any more children. There is an understandable desire to keep them young because it marks a passing phase of our life. I know that for me when my youngest went to school it was a real turning point. I knew that I would never have another child at home full time which took some adjusting too. Thanks so much for your comment. Kirtsen

    1. Thank you Jenny. I know you are going through new milestones at the moment with your children so are really in touch with the pride and loss. Kirsten

  25. Hi Kristen, my two are 18 and 15 and I still have to pinch myself at the fact they are all grown up (or almost).

    My daughter (15) has just gone up to her last school (which here is a high school) and I am really proud of how poised and self confident she is. It recently occurred to me that school is becoming a distant thing for me. There are times I have to go up to the school to see how she is getting on, but I no longer have to fuss about her being on time or getting her stuff (she tells me what she needs and I take her to buy it).

    Debbie recently posted…Never Thought I’d Be Able To Remove The Stitches From The Cat…My Profile

    1. Hi Debbie, I cant imagine that age. It must be so surreal to be nearly through the school years and have two independent people but so amazing too. Thank you for sharing the stage you are at. Kirsten

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