Editor's Note: Today, we welcome Leanne Willen as our newest member of the CatholicMom.com family of contributors. Leanne blogs at the wonderful Life Happens When and is mom to two adorable children. Welcome Leanne!! LMH

Letting Go

The doctor smiled at me and placed my brand new baby onto my chest. I clumsily wrapped my arms around him. Everything about him was foreign to me.

This child introduced me to motherhood. We learned together as the days passed. By the time he was a year old, I no longer needed resource books or internet message boards.

I finally trusted my mother's intuition.

Over the past three years, I've learned a lot about being a mother. I've never known my heart to fill and flood with such deep ranging emotions as it has since becoming a mother.

While the work is tiresome, the lack of sleep is frustrating, the growing pains are uncomfortable, letting go is the most gut-wrenching part of the journey.

In the beginning, they depend on us for love, comfort, and survival. As they begin to reach milestones, we cheer for them and pride filters through us.

We blink and they're running. And talking. And asserting their independence.

As mothers we must make many delicate decisions about the health and well being of our children. I recently made the life changing decision to quit my job and stay home with mine. And it has been worth every lost penny.

But I have a three year old who has been in daycare his entire life. He's a social kid and he loves learning. So I also made the decision to enroll him in a two day a week Mother's Day Out program at a local church.

As I readied his backpack and reread the paperwork the night before he started, I fought back tears. When my husband came to check on me, I surrendered and let the waterworks flow.

"How is it that he's been in daycare all his life, but I'm still a nervous wreck about sending him to school?" I asked.

"Because you're Mom."

"Will I always feel this way?" I wondered aloud.

To which we both answered, "Yes." Because I'm Mom.

His wins are my wins. His struggles are my struggles. His pain is my pain. Except they are not. I can't win for him. I can't claim his struggles. I can't take away his pain.

And I certainly can't go to school for him. I had to let go again so that he could experience life.

These four short hours a week are only practice for what's ahead. I know I'll get more experience with letting go as he continues to assert his independence. I'll cheer for him and pride will filter through me. Though I know my heart will be heavy, too.

Bittersweet may be the best way to describe motherhood, but I wouldn't trade it for the world- even when I have to let go.

Copyright 2012 Leanne Willen