Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Taking Flight

My eyes were moist as I put my daughter, Teresa, on the bus at 3:30 this morning. I had to restrain myself from wrapping her in a big hug, knowing that she doesn't like hugs that much anyway and particularly not in front of her friends. Oh, have we really entered that stage of parenthood? My little girl is growing up. This morning she left with the rest of her classmates for a 4-day school trip to San Diego. It's not hard to let her go in the sense that I know she is being well-chaperoned and that we have committed her to the Father's care. But it is hard to let her go because it is one small but significant step towards growing up. My love for her causes me to want to cling to her, to hold her close and protect her. But because I love her I need to let her stretch her wings and learn to fly.

This is her first time to travel somewhere without either myself or her mother along. There have been many times I have had to leave her at home while I traveled and there have been times when together my wife and I have traveled, leaving her and her brother with family or friends. But this week she is the one going away from us. She's launching out into the wider world on her own. It's a good first step. Big enough to give it significance but secure enough to not leave her parents loaded with worry. In June she'll follow this step with another when she travels with her youth group to summer camp for a week.

I'm praying a lot for her. She is a strong introvert and being among large groups of people, especially if she doesn't know them, is stressful for her. Her routine will be discarded. The food will be beyond her control. And she will get a taste, a small taste, of life without mom and dad. I pray that she will have a great time, strengthen some existing friendships and maybe even make a couple new ones, enjoy the beauty of God's creation and get to relax. But I'm also praying that she will find she misses her family a bit too. I think she will. I did at her age, though I probably would never have admitted it.

Wayne Watson wrote a song years ago that makes me teary anytime I hear it, especially now as my children transition into the teen years. The song is called Watercolor Ponies, referring to the childhood watercolor paintings we parents so proudly display on our refrigerators. The chorus goes like this:

Still I wonder baby what will we do, When it comes back to me and you? They look a little less like little boys every day. Oh the pleasure of watching the children growin' Is mixed with the bitter cup Of knowing the watercolor ponies Will one day ride away.

Parenting is such bittersweet joy. You want your children to grow into mature, independent adults. But the process of getting them there is filled with moments like this morning when you have to step back and let go a little bit more until one day they ride away on their own. Oh to cherish each moment until they do!

No comments:

Post a Comment