Last week, our 14-year-old daughter attended a fine arts festival at a college several hours away from home.
She’s been to week-long summer camp before, so this wasn’t a totally new experience for us, but it was strange for her to be gone for so long in the middle of the school year.
And while she was excited about going and I was happy for her to go, I have this thing – a worry, I guess you could call it – about all that might happen to her while she’s away. She could get sick (and she did text me one morning to say that she had a cough), she could forget to pack something she really needed and have no way to get it, she could get hurt or not know how to get to where she needed to be.
While she was gone, I happened to listen to a podcast by Chuck Swindoll in which he described the process of letting go of our children. He said that each year of their lives, we release our children a little bit more. It’s like flying a kite; you
gradually let go of the string, a little at a time, until it’s up as high as it can go.
So it is with our children. It starts out small…leaving him in the church nursery as a baby or with grandma for a couple of hours while we go out on a date with our husband. Then it’s letting them spend the day with a friend or a cousin, then sending them off to school or some other supervised place where mom’s not around. Each small step, each time we let out a bit more of the kite string, our child gains a little more freedom and independence and we gain a little more confidence in their ability to take on the world.
It’s part of growing up. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be fearful of ever leaving me, scared to try things on her own. I don’t want her to never want to leave, but I always want her to look forward to coming home (even if it’s for the food….when I asked her, via text, on Thursday if she was ready to come home, she replied, “Maybe…but I’m definitely ready for real food” – aka home cooking!)
Letting go is hard – it’s giving up the control I want to have over her safety and her health and her well-being. It certainly grows my faith as a mom as I have to let go of another fistful of that kite string and realize that even when I’m away from her, God’s not. He’s right there watching over her, taking care of her. He loves her more than I do and will use these times to grow both of us. So the best thing I can do is to pray for her and entrust her to His care.
Yet how sweet the reunions are, hearing the stories from her trip and seeing, through my mother eyes, the lessons she’s learning and the ways she’s growing as a person. I don’t think these partings will get any easier as the years go by, but I’m learning in a new way every time she leaves how I can trust God to be all that we both need – and more.