Preparing to Let My Baby Go
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years," Genesis 1:14 ESV
A new day dawns. Sun rises. Birds sing. Flowers grow…
It’s a new day. It’s as if all of creation knows, as if all of creation grows…today is a new day for my daughter.
Today, after years of preparation—hard work, sleepless nights, APs, SATs, ACTs, essays, extra help, extracurricular, education—today she decides where she will spend the next four years of her life.
The past two years have been a road of discovery. We didn’t have to do it. We didn’t have to travel to Chicago, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ithaca, Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh, Washington, Williamsburg, and lots of places in between. Sometimes, it was hard to go great distances, force ourselves to rise again, drive again. Mostly, it was an adventure, an exploration of who this young woman, my daughter, was and who she wants to be.
There has been laughter, tears, stress, joy…so much life, together, as we forged this road that will lead us apart.
Really, I can’t believe we’re here.
The years I looked forward to, the years I once imagined of having babies, cooking family meals, making a home, growing children, so many of these years now past. They’re recorded in my mind, in pictures, in videos, in the trinkets, clay pinch pots, and boxes of school momentos. And every moment is forever etched into my heart.
Amelia was born of hope.
Hope in the wake of my husband’s terrible accident, hope that life, real life in the form of an almost 11-pound, red-headed, wide-eyed baby would go on fully. (I know Amelia, I know this is sometimes a burden, but I hope that mostly it is a blessing to know that you were born of promise.)
And Amelia has not disappointed.
She’s lived life full, taken advantage of all the best things offered, given to those in need. She can be fiercely independent and doggedly determined, unstoppable. Just like…me…no her dad…no…just like Amelia.
Her hair was so bright on the day of her birth, it was shocking!
Her hair, an almost waist-length mass of copper curls, is still that bright…and so is she.
At times, it’s been a rocky hard couple of years. For us, mother and daughter, it has definitely been a time of separating. And I don’t do that well…really, no, I don’t do that well.
She backs away, I move in. She puts up a wall, I try to tear it down, sometimes angrily, indignantly.
I know, I know this is not about me. I know this is necessary. In order to leave, to grow, to become all that she is meant to be, she must move away.
But darn it if I won’t try to stop it.
Even after going through this three times already. It hasn’t helped me get better at letting go. In fact, it’s probably made me worse. I anticipate, readying myself, putting up my defenses. I think it’s all her, but I act like it’s all about me.
Even now, with this day dawning distance, I have a perspective that allows a look back. I’ve been protective, defensive. I’ve readied myself for the battle, and in doing so, I’ve aimed the first shot.
I’ve held on, been ungracious and angry. At times, I’ve been mean, just in case she’ll be mean to me. And though I know this separating has to happen, I have not let it happen easily. I’ve used angles and manipulation to try to keep her bound. I’ve set up traps that snap at her ankles. No, no, no…please don’t go.
I didn’t set out to do this. I’ve done my work. Sought expert counsel. But this is one of my issues…letting go or holding on, taking it personally, covering my sadness, my grief, my fear in anger. Pulling back myself. Distancing myself, first, so you can’t. This, I do well.
It won’t be long now.
Pomp and Circumstance, cap and gown, congratulations! A spot of summer…and then that day in August when we will pack up her things. And yes, it will probably be a day of panic and hurry and stress, masking the devastating reality and the wondrous truth, Amelia, my baby, is leaving for college. She is doing exactly what we planned. She has been everything we could’ve hoped for. She has brought us unfathomable joy.
Very soon she will leave. It’s time. We knew this day would come. But are you ever prepared?
As this new day dawns, this day right in front of me. I am determined to be more gracious, loving, and kind. To be a better shepherd, not holding back my little lamb, but guiding her forward, weaning her with joy. Because this is what it’s all been for, been about. This raising of a child, this loving, this pouring into, this painful, wonderful, heartwarming, heart-wrenching thing called mothering. She is self-possessed. Independent. Always mine, but never really mine.
This post first appeared on CirclesOfFaith.org