The time is coming quickly, in fact, at this point, the time is so close that I should say the day is coming soon. It is around the corner and approaching like a freight train.
But it isn’t here. NOT YET!
August 12th, that’s the day. That’s the day we pull out of the driveway and take our youngest daughter to North Carolina to begin her new life as a college student.
It’s not August 12th.
How can it be? How are we here? I know, these are the same questions every parent asks in this season and in every new season that creeps up and snatches their breath away like a drop off at the end of a roller coaster ride. That pit in your stomach that says, “Oh no, here it comes, here it comes, I see it just around the corner.”
But it’s not here.
The bags are being packed and Bed Bath and Beyond has become a regular hangout, shopping for things that won’t fit in the tiny block of the world that she will call home during this next season. Her bedroom at home is being cleaned out and worked through and soon it will be straight and empty for a few months.
But it’s not empty now.
The summer has been full of her coming and going, road trips and trips to visit family. Working and visiting with friends in town. Lots of “lasts”. The last night to “hang” with a friend leaving for missions. The last time to babysit for the family she has been with every single week for the last year. The last breakfast with a middle school friend or sleepover with a friend heading in the opposite direction. She is more out than in for sure.
But she is not really out.
I think of friends, who I have watched go through the launch season. This time it’s a double whammy, watching our child leave but, with Lilly, the leaving will leave the nest empty. Lilly has been on the other side of “the leaving” with me. We have lived the sting of watching our family grow and become “adult” together. She is the baby. Oh, the tears we have cried. I have the image of her weeping on Ansley’s shoulder as we said, “It’s time to goooo”….burned into my soul. I cry now thinking of it. Then round two, with her big brother who is her hero. She stood in the foyer and clung to him through sobs. At times I wasn’t sure if I was crying more for my heart or for mine???
We have weathered the storm of change side by side. But now it’s her turn.
But, not quite yet.
I have plenty words of wisdom and comfort for those coming behind me, for first timers. I survived and so will you, I promise! But I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. It’s a grieving of a season mixed with so much joy?! With your first you learn to let go of “we won’t all be living together” and with your last, well, I’m here and it’s a different. Now we is Lane and me and we will be living alone. Even amongst all the absolute excitement that we feel for Lilly, this hurts in my heart and in my stomach. We LOVE our children. We LOVE being a family. We LOVE being together.
We will adjust to the new normal. But it’s not time.
We will learn.
We will let it all unfold.
We will learn what this new season means as we go. But, right now, it is just a guess.
We don’t know.
So many folks over the years have told me, “By the time they leave, and you drive out of the driveway you will be ready for them to go.”
Waiting for that shift. Waiting for the argument or the attitude or whatever would make a Mama’s heart ready for this day. It hasn’t happened. I’m not ready. I’m not gonna be ready for the hug on the dorm step. UGH!
This is the truth. I like Lilly! I like her a lot. We all know we love our children, and most love being parents to their children. But this is what I am discovering. This isn’t about being sad because the season of parenting has come to an end. We will still be parents. And, by the way, I love being a parent to Lilly. BUT, I love Lilly more! I love her smile and her compassion. I love her sense of humor and joy. I love her depth of friendship and watching those friends grow with her and encourage one another. I love her voice filling the house with laughter and the way she values her family. I love her quiet strength. I love the way she thinks and fights for those who struggle and suffer, the way she champions people. I love her and I really, really love having her around. Not because I need her to fulfill me or a role I have been given, but because I really, really like her as a person. She will be SO missed!
The day is coming. It is coming like a freight train. The goodbyes are a daily occurrence for Lilly. One after the next these baby birds are launching all over the country and the world. It is time to fly. I am so proud of her. I am so excited for her. I am so expectant for her. It will be our joy to watch her continue to grow into an amazing young woman. We will watch from a little further away. (actually, a lot further) and we won’t hear her explosions of laughter through the house. But we will cheer her on and send her off with great hope of the future and many prayers covering her.
If you haven’t launched a baby bird out of the nest yet here is what I will say from the seat that I find myself sitting in presently, steward well the moments you have. We have all heard those ahead of us tell us how fast time flies. It is true. Perhaps the thought of stewardship is not one that comes to mind when you think about parenting. The reality is our children are gifts given to us by God. They belong to Him and He has a specific plan for each of their lives. What a gracious God to give us the privilege of parenthood! To experience love with such depth! He gives these sweet babies to us to hold tightly at first, to swaddle and carry and then to slowly release. They are not ours to have and to hold. They are given to us to love and to enjoy and to train and then, to release. Steward well the moments you have because one day, before you know it, the moments will be memories and trust me you will be tempted to want those moments back.
There was a painting in Lilly’s room as a child and the around the painting was written:
To you I hope to give two things, to give you roots and give you wings.
I do believe that Lilly has deep roots. So many have loved her so well. Now, in a couple of weeks this baby bird will launch. She will leave this nest and she will fly. The nest will be empty but our hearts will be full.
The day is coming and so is that hug.
But, not quite yet...