Last Sunday, as I was working at church, I observed a young couple drop off their only child at the nursery. As is the case with most young children in an unfamiliar environment, the little boy screamed and cried as his parents tentatively walked away. Witnessing the near-panic in the distressed mother’s face, I came alongside her and said, “He’ll be just fine, Mom”.
And he was.
That’s kind of how I feel every time I drop off a kid at college for the first time—near panic and unsure of their survival skills. Except they’re not the ones crying, I am.
I don’t have to participate in that dreaded exercise this year, (you can read about Luke’s departure here and Tess’ here) but next year, I will do it once again. And I will cry. And I will mourn the flight of one more child from the nest that I so carefully prepared for them for 18 years. This “launching” is always a very sentimental time for me and I spend much time replaying their childhoods in my head. As I hug them good-bye, I will inhale their scent, reminiscing on the sweet after-bath baby smell that used to intoxicate me when they were young. I will look in their eyes and envision how dirty-happy they used to be after a full day of making berry potions and mud pies outside. I will listen to their grown up voices and rehearse the trusting way they used to call out “Mama!” when they had bad dreams at night. As they sit on the bed for their first college photos, I will play and replay our bedtime routines in my mind--complete with music box melodies. I will remember every picnic in the forest, every lightning bug-catching evening and every song wafting from the swing set. I will remember these things as I embrace my child…and leave my child…and walk down the stairs of the dorm without my child. Then I will put my sunglasses on as I enter the daylight and let my sorrows about the end of life-as-I-know-it flow out in my tears. Then I will drive away from my child and feel great guilt over leaving them. And great fear over trusting them. And I will want to do a u-turn right there on the highway and drive back to the dorm and rescue them.
But really, it’s me that I would be rescuing. My child is fine with her new life. She is excited to move on and move out. She is exhilarated by fresh independence. Her life is finally her own. She’s ready to run towards her goals and hopes and dreams. Childhood has been achieved and conquered. She is ready to grow up.
And I need to let her.
And while I am struggling, I can thank my Father for the privilege of raising her. I can rejoice in His sovereignty over her life. I can ask Him to guide her and protect her as she is away from my ever-watchful eyes. And I can trust that He will hear my prayer…today and every day...as He guides her and forms her into a beautiful reflection of Himself.
Because He loves her even more than I do.
I can’t imagine that.
She’ll be just fine, Mom. And so will you.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.