My daughter had a big day ahead of her. She was anxiously anticipating the final assignment of her internship with our church’s local outreach ministry where each intern would give a presentation they had worked on for several weeks. She spent every day of her summer serving our city’s communities in need, participating in leadership training and book studies, and this project was the culmination of it all. She was nervous and excited to share her ideas with a room full of ministry leaders and interns she had grown to love and admire.
So, on this important day of her presentation, she left with a hug and a prayer from me. I wanted to go with her, to be there in those pivotal moments when she shined and watch her do something big, important, and new. But when I asked if I could go, she politely declared, “That would be weird, Mom.”
Yes, it’s weird indeed. It’s all so weird to me.
I once was there for everything- and now it seems I’m suddenly thrown into some magic show, and POOF! I’m gone. Not needed anymore. And while the crowd cheers in amazement, I crawl through the dark tunnel behind the stage, just trying to find my way through to the wings to watch her shine. When I finally reach my place hidden from view, I see my girl standing in the spotlight- her arms raised, her chin held high, as she’s embracing her independence with a force of such joy that I can’t help but cheer for her, too. It comes with a swelling pride and a longing ache that lingers, watching her grow into this independent young woman who does her own thing.
I spent the rest of the day anxiously anticipating hearing how things went, both excited and nervous for my girl. The hours went by, and I kept waiting for a text or a call, assuming she would let me know immediately after, but my phone was silent. I figured she was just too busy doing her thing in her world- out there on her own.
And as I’ve told myself so many times- this is good, this is right, this is how it’s supposed to be.
My girl is building her life away from me.
She is incredibly busy with her schoolwork and working two jobs while actively participating in several of our church’s ministries. And, of course, she squeezes in socializing with friends with what little time she has left.
My senior already has one foot out the door, and both feet are often gone as I wait to hear how things went, how she’s doing, and what’s next for the coming day. Parenting my girl has transformed into being her home base, catching fleeting glimpses and rare embraces when I can. I’ve become her sounding board and her safe place to land, always ready to offer advice when asked, encouragement when needed, and praise for all the great things she’s doing.
Once my girl comes home, I excitedly ask, “SO??? HOW DID IT GO?” And she hurriedly gives me the details of it all. She doesn’t have much time because she is leaving again to go take her senior pictures in a sunflower field, something she’s always dreamed of doing. Her friend is a new professional photographer, and my girl set this up on her own. She picked out her favorite outfit to wear, and while I was french-braiding her freshly washed hair, I lamented, “I wish I were going too. I would love to see you pose for pictures in that field.” To which she lovingly patted my arm and said, “I’ll tell you all about it when I get home, Mom.”
And she did.
I’m thankful I’m still her touchstone. I pray I’ll always be.
I think about her living on her own very far away, so soon I won’t have these precious moments with her here. Will she call or text me with updates or forget because she’s just “So busy, Mom.” Will she take the time to visit her old home base, or will she just fly out into the world with only rare returns for some holidays?
I’m not sure. But I do know that she is growing up and moving through this last season far too fast. It’s a dull heartbreak escorted by a yearning to have my little girl in my arms once again. But there’s no turning back now. This is the way it goes. This is when we are forced to let go, and the release of our grip is fraught with worries and wondering as our children slowly slip out of our hands and into the unknown.
I’ll miss this intimate view I have into her life- like seeing the way her face lights up when she’s excited or how her shoulders slump when she’s disappointed. I’ll miss her toothpaste stains on the bathroom sink and the cups she still seems to forget to pick up and clean. I’ll miss seeing her car keys on the counter when she’s home and how she comes through the door with her bright eyes while greeting me, “MOM! I have to tell you what happened!” Or “Mom, oh my gosh, I need to talk to you.” Now I find myself stopping everything I’m doing to give her my full attention, knowing these are the moments I’ll miss the most. I’m all hers, and I hope she knows I’ll always be. It’s so hard letting my senior go.
“Please stay safe and check in when you can. I love you and I’m so proud of you.”
I tell my girl these words every time she leaves the house.
I’ll miss saying them when she’s gone.
Hopefully, I’ll always get the chance to tell her to stay safe and check in when she can.
And hopefully, I’ll always be able to tell her how much I love her and how very proud I am of her, too.