You captured our hearts the moment we met, and have held them hostage every day since. It’s hard to believe that something so small, so helpless, so innocent could wield such power.
Before you came into our lives we couldn’t imagine the radical changes that your presence would cause. We looked at you–and you looked back at us–and we all knew, instinctively, positively, that something beautiful, powerful and terrifying had happened to each one of us.
You came into the world, blinking your eyes as they adjusted to the harsh new light. Any small noise startled you, causing you to reach out for fear of falling. But we were there to catch you, safeguard you, reassure you that this new bright world was as safe a place as the dark, enclosing world you came from.
We had questions.
Are we ready to be parents? No.
Do we know what we’re doing? No.
How many ways can we mess this up? Quadrillions.
How do we raise a child? Carefully, with love, patience and prayers.
You were demanding, refusing to let the normal routines of our daily life interfere with your needs. We fed your hunger, kept you comfortable and safe, reassured you when you were afraid, laughed with you in play, watched you grow and celebrated each new milestone in your young life with encouragement and applause.
And grow you did. From crawling, to standing, to stumbling with each new step, to walking in the world on your own, to running at top speed from one new experience to another. From crying, laughing, squealing with delight over each new discovery. From babbling baby sounds, to “Pick up me!”
For six years we were there, holding on as you learned to push away, asserting your independence. Until the day we had to let you go, on your own, into the big world. You laughed the first day you climbed the steps into the big yellow bus; we cried as we watched you leave.
There were other leave-takings: your first trip with grandparents, the first time you spent the night at a friend’s, overnight field trips and church retreats. Leaving elementary school for middle school, leaving middle school for high school. With each step you entered a larger world as we pried our fingers away and let you go.
What have we forgotten to teach you? Lots.
Have we prepared you for the next step? As much as we could.
Are you ready to go? You bet.
Are we ready to let you go? Are you kidding–NEVER!
And now, here you are. Speeding into adulthood while we wish you would apply the brakes, slow down, stay a little while longer. We’re not ready to let you go, Just as we weren’t ready when you arrived. We’ve done what was essential for your protection and well-being up to now; we will continue as you enter a larger world. Only now we can’t protect you from the potential dangers.
How do we let you go?
Carefully, with love, patience and prayers.
You laugh in celebration as you pack up the car and head out on your own to college.
We laugh–and cry–with you, as we watch you leave.