Not Looking Back
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making away in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
She got out of the car and didn’t even look back. She waded into the crowd of students all standing around sharing schedules and reconnecting after the summer. Up to that point, my emotions had been fairly calm. The morning was a little stressful with various things like eye brows, lip stick and which shoes to wear and through all of that, I kept things calm and peaceful and kept breathing and praying. I was in charge of helping her with her hair and in the end, I think it turned out fine. She was happy and that’s really all that mattered.
Nothing about the morning was surprising. We drove to the school with no issues. It’s only about half a mile away from our apartment so it wasn’t much of a trip. What was surprising was my reaction when my daughter walked away from the car without even looking back. I burst into tears. Not like a little tear running down my cheek, I was a mess. I cried the entire way home and I cried for about another half an hour.
This transition is catching me by surprise. Other friends who have kids starting high school have been emotional about it and I haven’t been. I’ve been feeling relatively relaxed about it all and like it feels “right”. Up to this point, however, I’ve had a daughter who always looked back when she left the car and this morning she didn’t and that struck me. She’s taking flight and doesn’t have a reason to look back because she’s feeling secure in her ability to move forward.
Parenting is tough. It’s a long process of little steps that all lead up the day when our children leave us. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that our children will always “need” us, because the truth is that they won’t. I don’t want her to need me in her life as much as I want her to want me in her life. There’s a big difference. If I need something, it means that I can’t function well without it. My job as her mom is to make sure that she can function well without me because let’s be honest, statistically speaking there is a day coming when I won’t be here for her. If I want something, however, it means that I’m making a choice to have that thing in my life. I want her to choose me to be in her life.
There is a tension in letting go. How much do I release my grip and still keep her steady? When she walked away from the car this morning without looking back, I knew that I was letting go enough. She didn’t need to look back at me for reassurance, she was fully enabled to walk forward to her friends. We had prayed together in the car as we were pulling in and I had already prayed a blessing over her. She was able to walk forward in the knowledge that God was with her and nothing could ever change that truth.
The other tension in letting go is the further acceptance that I am alone. Yes, I have God and that is amazing but can I tell you that having God as your partner in life is challenging. I love God with all of my heart, soul and mind and I wouldn’t trade Him in my life for anything, but the fact is that I don’t have a husband so there is a loneliness to life. I don’t fill my loneliness with my daughter as some parents do. I’ve been that “best friend” for my mom and it’s not healthy. Yet, there is a comfort in not being physically alone in the apartment. Today I had a deep realization that I will be more alone in the coming years as she grows and finds her own path. My prayer is that I find more and more peace in God so that my heart feels less lonely.
My daughter stepped into the next chapter this morning the minute she stepped out of the car. There is a part of me that wishes I could have kept her in the car and that maybe, somehow, I could keep her from leaving. And yet, there was a deep joy and satisfaction in watching her confidently walk away. I felt like I could see the fruit of the choices I have made over the years of her life. I also stepped into the next chapter of my life this morning. I’m not sure what is planned for me but I know it is new. Change doesn’t usually bother me but this time, this change is unlike any other and it is requiring more faith than I expected needing. God is doing a new thing, I see it and I’m walking into it without looking back.