It’s May already! Our survey last month indicated that our readers wanted to hear from us in whatever stage of parenting we’re finding ourselves. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into our lives.
On the day my oldest daughter was born, I sat in the hospital room holding her close, and I said the most unexpected and strange words to my husband.
“I feel like my job from now on is to teach her to not need me.”
Not exactly the words you’d expect from a first-time mother holding her newborn.
In fact, you might expect the opposite reaction:
“This world is so dangerous; I need to protect her.”
“People are bound to hurt her; I must hold her close.”
“She might not feel loved; I must smother her with affection.”
I suppose that growing up with parents who encouraged my independence might have contributed to my own parenting instincts. I suppose that losing a sibling at a young age may have affected my parenting style as well.
But in that hospital room twenty-two years ago, I had a very deep sense that the Lord was speaking something important into my life. I held that tightly swaddled bundle, thinking long and hard about how my daughter was truly a gift from Him, and I realized in that moment that my job was to hold her, not tightly, not as my possession, but as His.
For twenty-two years I have looked to God, plead with Him, and trusted Him to help me guide this daughter through the tricky places of junior high, adolescence, friendships, college decisions, and so much more.
Next week my oldest daughter will graduate from college.
And this summer she will move out of our home.
*Take a deep breath with me here, will you?*
These are the days. The days I’ve prayed about. The days I’ve looked forward to. The days my husband and I have prepared her for.
And yet. They are also the days that will tear at my heart for a little while. Of course they will, because I love my daughter. She has been a joy to raise and a delight to watch grow into womanhood, as have her sisters who are not too far behind her.
But because I love my daughter, I will let her go. I will watch her walk across that stage to collect her diploma, and I will clap and cheer when her class is presented as alumni. I will hug her joyfully on the day we move her into her first apartment, confident that she is ready.
I will look deeply into her eyes, see her love for Jesus, and I will know that entrusting my daughter into His care is the best possible place for both of us.
I think the words of St. Patrick’s Breastplate are appropriate as I watch my daughters step confidently into the world, hand-in-hand with the God who loves them so much more than I.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
They say that mothering isn’t for the faint of heart, and this week, I’d say they are right. My heart is torn, but not broken. I’m holding on to sweet memories, but letting go of my girl.
Open hands, mamas.
Open hearts, too.
See your daughter for the gift she is today and prepare yourself (and her!) to let her go and watch her fly.