A new text message.
From my daughter – away at college, nearly 1,500 miles away.
“Sitting at graduation,” she wrote, “where you will be next year.”
Hmmm. Really? Is it that close? Just one summer internship and two semesters to go. Wow.
“Sounds like fun,” I texted back.
This is it. She’s our youngest child and this time next year we’ll be sitting on a folding chair, or in the bleachers, or standing along a cinder block wall somewhere on the East Coast, watching her walk across that stage and out into the world.
Out to change the world.
It’s what they’re meant for. These children come to us for such a short time. Eighteen years. Maybe twenty-one. Maybe they boomerang back to live with us again while they figure out their finances, or find their passion, or search for a job that pays the bills.
But they’re not meant to stay. They are always leaving.
I’m the first to admit it’s not easy to let them go. We parents know the world is big and mean and unforgiving, right? From the very first moment that I met my children -breathing in the sweetness of their baby breath and feeling the curl of tiny fingers around my own – I wanted to keep them safe. Keep them warm. Keep them happy. Keep them healthy.
“Mom. You call me way too much.” That’s what my son told me five years ago, when I called him one day during his first year of college.
But he was right. I had been trying to keep him, but to him it felt like I was keeping tabs on him. Not good. So I eased up. And we both lived to tell about it.
We get these precious people added to our families and oh, how sweet it is. Even when my children pedaled away for the first time, or spent their first week at sleep-away camp, it was hard to imagine the day they’d leave my home for good.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that I don’t get to keep them.
They’re not mine, though. They were created by God to change the world. That is the sweet and beautiful truth. He has plans for them. He calls them by name. He has engraved their names on the palms of His hands. They are His. He knows the number of hairs on their heads. He treasures them. He loves them.
He keeps them.
And because I know He keeps them, I can let them go.