Journal Entry 07 05 2013
Yesterday as Eric and I were out driving we stumbled upon the most wonderful sight. Amusing enough to have us both craning our necks as we turned the corner and make up our own dialogue of what was supposedly being said.
Picture this. Empty silver Audi car parked in the right hand lane with flashers on as the Dad stands peering over the fence next to the road watching his teenage daughter, suitcase tagging along behind her, ticket in hand, giddily dancing toward the entrance to the bus station. He takes out his wallet, calls her back and offers her his money. She is smiling as she re-traces her steps back to him but you see it in the corners of her mouth and eyes. “Dad let me go! I’m ready!” He stood there outside the fence, car in the middle of the street, watching her leave. And he stood there until she was through the entrance and out of sight. And he lingered there still. As the dad walked off, his face toward the ground we did not look at him. All we could do was offer privacy for him to work out the feelings we know all too well. The truth is one of the hardest things we do as parents, is watch our children leave. I am sure in his mind he was picturing her in her knee socks, chubby cheeks smeared with sticky candy, scraggly wildflowers in one hand, puppy leash in the other, skipping as she talked to herself about princesses, tea parties and chasing butterflies in the back yard. But, our children are constant reminders that time does not stand still.
Transition. A three syllable word that stretches you like a rubber band. The first time this word became a reality as a parent was during labor. There is a stage called, “transition”. For those mothers who endured or fathers who watched, I understand the furrow of your brow as you recall those moments in time. Transition was the hardest change, movement and process of labor. Quite literally it was the “do or die” moment. Had Eric not been there walking me though every breath of the way, I would have given up all hope and the heat of pain would have consumed my whole body till nothing was left but sweat, blood and tears. But breakthrough was on the heels of transition and soon our Grace was in my arms and the pain and memory of transition was far out of mind like a forgotten bowl in the upper corner cabinet. But eventually you’re going to need that bowl so down it comes and with it thoughts of pain and fear.
The first transition of labor was just a test run so it seems because growing your children up from childhood to adulthood is nothing but constant change. Sometimes change comes like a bursting surprise of colors, laughter and music. Sometimes it hits you like a dull inevitable ache. Other times change crashes upon you like a 30 foot wave you never saw coming. It is one thing to walk your five year old across the street to his first day of class and quite another to watch your 16 year old drive away. Yet still to walk your 18 year old to the airport terminal and quite another to walk your daughter down the aisle. And yes it is quite different still to hold your child in your arms and watch as she transitions from this life to the next.
Your greatest hope as a parent is to hear the words we can only suppose this young girl said to her “Daddy or Poppy”, “I am ready! Let me go!” How many times have we heard that phrase uttered, muttered, declared and proclaimed? “I can do it myself!” They start declaring it early. Dressing themselves in polka-dots and stripes or while buttoning their shirts one button off. And you stand there gazing in his big brown hopeful eyes, smiling as you look at the catty wonkus shirt. You nod your head proudly, “Yes, I see. You can do it!” Parenthood is just as much, if not more, training for the parent as the child. We have to keep our eyes on the target, lest our hearts confuse the point of parenthood, which is to make them ready to leave. Whether we can admit it out loud or not we want to hear to proclamation, “I am ready. I can do it myself.” We, as parents, are the shoulders that hoist our children upward. We are the mega-phone that shouts “make clear the path”. We are the whispers in their mind and hearts that make them believe in themselves. We love our jobs! But then on the coat-tails of “I can do it myself” comes the quicksand of “Let me go!” This is the disdained rub. You can’t have one reality without the other. We make them ready. We show them the stars and explain their God-given glory and beauty, we show them themselves and boast of their God-given glory and beauty, we train them in the tools and resources to gain the galaxies and beyond and then….We hear the reverberations of declarations of the past, ”Let me go! I am ready!”, as they gaze heavenward, hopeful and excited about the worlds they will conquer, without us. So, we take our hands off, we back away, but linger as we watch.
It’s like standing in the sunshine while it rains. It is an odd and bizarre sight and sensation. On the one hand you are getting wet and you don’t like it. But at the same time it’s beautiful and awe inspiring and you know it won’t last forever. In just a moment it will all be over, no need to rush or fret. Standing there lingering as you are watching your child leave and go her own way is a bit like that, mixture of contradicting emotions. Parents and children, ups and downs, scrapped knees and wounded hearts, accomplishments and graduations until they are making their own path to worlds where you cannot follow. You are standing there, the constant monument of consistency and dependency, proud and hopeful but your heart tender and vulnerable, as you watch as from the other side of the fence which only highlights the feeling of the chasm between you. And you linger, watching as they make their steady and determined movement forward, transitioning yet again, until they are out of sight. I know it is the best thing, the right thing, the only thing to do at this point in time but it is also the hardest thing, watching you leave!