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 be giving 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 both 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, as I wanted to go with her, to be there in those pivotal moments when she shined, to watch her do something big and important and new, but when I asked if I could go, she politely declared “That would be weird, mom.”
Yes, weird indeed. It’s all so weird to me.
I once was there for everything- and like I’m suddenly thrown into some kind of magic show, POOF! I’m gone, not needed, and while the crowd cheers in amazement, I’m crawling through the dark tunnel behind the stage, just trying to find my way through to the wings to watch her shine. And when I do, I see my girl in the spotlight- arms raised, chin held high, embracing her independence with a force of such joy, I can’t help but cheer for her too. It comes with swelling pride and a longing ache that lingers, watching her grow into this independent young woman who does her own thing.
I anxiously anticipated hearing how things went, picturing every detail of this day, 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 knew she had to serve for several hours after this meeting, so 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.
Even in a pandemic, she has managed to be incredibly busy with her schoolwork and working two jobs, while also actively participating in several of our church’s ministries. And, of course, she squeezes in safe social visits with friends with what little time she has left.
My senior already has one foot out the door, and really, 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. These are the days when parenting my girl has transformed into being her home base, her sounding board, her safe place to land. I’m at the ready to offer suggestions when asked, encouragement when needed, and praise when earned.
Once my girl comes home from her long day, 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 she always dreamed to see. Her friend is a professional photographer, and she set this up on her own. She picked out her favorite outfit to wear and while I was braiding her freshly washed hair, I lamented, “Gosh, I wish I was 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 doing it all on her own while living somewhere else, so soon I won’t have this precious time to be a part of her life. 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 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 heartache escorted by a yearning to have my little girl back in my arms but knowing there’s no turning back now. This is the way it goes. This truth about raising a child sneaks in and reveals itself during the long years of parenting them through every stage and age of their little lives until they are big and grown and on their own. And the release of our grip is fraught with worries and wondering along the way, as our children slowly slip out of our hands and into the world.
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 with, “MOM! I have to tell you what happened!” Or “Mom, oh my gosh, I need to talk to you.” And I find myself stopping everything I’m doing to give her my full attention at any time, knowing these are the moments I’ll miss most. I’m all hers, and my gosh, I hope she knows I’ll always be.
“Please stay safe and check in when you can. I love you and I’m so proud of you.” I say these words every time she leaves the house.
I’ll miss saying them when she’s gone.
Hopefully, she’ll still reach out to share all the details of her day.
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.