I am grateful for the folks who are genuinely surprised to find out that I have a child headed to college next fall. I married young, and got pregnant a few years later. And, I have some awesome genes on my side. But I try to keep up with the kids, and when we started on the college search journey I started documenting things on Instagram with the hashtag #flymysweet. I can’t believe we are already here.
My firstborn child and favorite daughter started her senior year in high school last week. (She’s my only daughter, by the way, but I heard somewhere a secret to parenting is to make each child think she/he is your favorite. Our 2nd born is my favorite older son, and my youngest is my favorite last child.)
We have begun the road of “this is the last…” Last week was the last first day of high school, and tonight is the last first home football game of the season. She is the co-captain of the varsity dance team. She looks cool driving my minivan to and from school. She is on track to finish all of her college applications before the November 1 Common App deadline. She decided she wanted to take 8 dance classes, work a part-time job, be a student, be part of the youth group, and sleep & eat. Not necessarily in that order. I’m proud. Proud of her choices. Proud of her ability to explain her choices and advocate for herself when her parents don’t want her to drop that AP Gov class. Proud that she is starting to come in to her own.
It’s breathtaking, really.
But lest you think I’m a helicopter parent who has hovered around her since she forcefully made her way out into the world or a lawnmower parent who has cleared the path clearly and tidily for her, you are wrong.
This isn’t about her.
It’s about me.
Learning to let go. To trust the work I’ve done as a parent. To trust she has not only heard but really listened to the things we have told her, whispered to her, yelled at her, prayed for her. To trust God in a way I’ve understood intellectually, but find much more difficult in the flesh and blood sort of way. I’ve told myself over and over that this isn’t about me, that her dancing, performing, laughing, succeeding, failing, loving, losing isn’t about me.
But I have been so very wrong, and arrogant, and naive.
Most days I still feel as incapable and confused as I did when they handed all 6 lbs., 11 oz. of her to me like I was so supposed to know what to do. As if the football hold would be instinctive despite the fact that I had never actually held a football in my life. As if a few hours with her would kick start that instinct to know the difference between a hungry cry and a sleepy cry and a “I pooped all the way up my back” cry.
It’s about our entire family learning to launch our first one out into the world as part of “us” but on her own.
It’s breathtaking. Thank you God. Thank you for granting me the privilege for watching the last firsts.
Your words tug at my heart. We’ve been dealing with last lasts. Within one week, we moved our youngest to his freshman year of college, and our oldest to her first year of grad school, 16 hours away. It sounds like I don’t need to tell you how fast that senior year is going to go and how precious every single moment will be. I hope you enjoy it (through the grieving) as much as I did.
Amy at http://www.momgoeson.wordpress.com
I was the mom who didn’t shed a tear when my youngest started kindergarten. I was so excited for him! But as we get ready to launch our oldest, I am trying to enjoy every crazy moment – even when my youngest wakes up and wants to crawl into bed because of the storm.
Thank you for reading and reminding me there is still more to come!
thanks for sharing. my kids are only in 2nd and 4th grade and i already think about launching them out (probably because i see it happen every year working at a university) and how it will be for us all… love your hashtag – it has such hope for and belief in your daughter.
I know I’ve spent the past 17 years acutely aware of how things will shift also having been around the university setting and college students through my work with InterVarsity.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when Bethany was mistaken for a college student that I tried to be more intentional about my parenting – how to prepare her on a practical level to fly. Laundry was one of the first things we tackled:)
there are perks to being a young parent…we are discovering “going out” now, like we never did in our 20’s when all our friends did…