Saturday, April 19, 2008

Let Go

Today was my little girl's birthday, but the thing is, she's not a little girl anymore. It's official. At least according to the the law. Today she became an adult. It's a weird feeling for me. I mean, I'M not even an adult yet, what is she doing becoming one??

I know that my children are really not mine, they're gifts from God, given to me for a time. Great gifts they are too, but it's that time thing that gets me. Every moment of your life as a parent, whether you know it or not, you're growing closer to your children. After all, love will do that to you. You give it away, you give it away, and you give it away some more. All the while those little gifts we call children are taking it in, taking it in, taking it in and learning how to give it back simply by your example. That's the way love is; it's a simultaneous giving and taking that causes you to grow closer to each other. There's no way around it. It's the way God designed it. That's what makes me wonder about people who say they know God and yet they don't love Him. Makes me wonder if they know him at all. But that's a tangent for another day. While growing closer to my daughter was the most desired as well as a most fulfilling thing for me and her, somewhere in the midst of that God wanted me to be learning how to let go.

I started learning how when she was 11 years old. That night in the summer when I crawled up on her bed at night like I always did. It was bed time. It was story time. It was kiss me goodnight time. Only on this night it was 'your mom and I are getting a divorce' time. Suddenly I had knowingly caused deep hurt in my little girl's heart. I didn't want to let go, but in that moment everything that was normal wasn't normal anymore. After I spoke that sentence and the sobbing began I knew her dreams had been shattered as much, if not more than mine had. It was the first step of letting go.

When she backed out the driveway on her 16th birthday with her two little brothers in the car and those three little hands waved goodbye, I knew that I'd be seeing precious little of that little precious girl in the days past that one. They lived eight miles away at the time, and had no other reason to come this way, but to 'visit' me. Her life was busy. She has always been an industrious student; always a straight 'A' girl and that takes time. Time and discipline. She also has always been a girl with a big circle of friends because she's a always been a good friend. More time taken. She is athletic and modestly so. While it was never her greatest passion, she would never scrimp on the training, which takes? You guessed it...time. As her dad I would never want her not to have any of these pursuits as they are all excellent and are worthy of her character, but it would mean that she would be a busy girl...with a car. Step two of letting go.

So tonight, I must surmise, is step three. Tonight she is a legal adult and harsh as it may sound, I will hold my tongue and give advice only when it is asked for. I will interject when I am asked and I will treat her as my adult daughter--with values and opinions different than my own. I am no less in love with this girl that has become a woman than I have ever, ever been. She will however, never cease to be my little girl.

Of that one thing I will never let go.


McSwain said...

Well, this post just about made me cry. ;) My dad still calls me his little girl, and I'm a long way from 21.

I think there's another step to look forward to. The one where after we let our kids go, they come back and become not only our kids, but close friends as adults. It sounds like you've struck some good balance in your relationship with your little girl over the years. You'll always be her daddy, too, you know.

Anonymous said...

While she is now a legal adult, she will always need you. Our children are now all grown, and we have been blessed many times over with grandchildren. It is a joy to watch our children now parent their children and a blessing to be a part of it. Treasure each moment and thank God for each second! And, happy birthday to your little girl.

Anonymous said...

You're a good man John.


Anonymous said...

Hi John,

On 19 April I knew that Jessica would turn another year older. I must admit that when I did the quick calculation and discovered that she would be turning 21....I thought, slow the boat down she can't be 21!! '87, '97, '07 plus one more makes your little girl...21.

Happy Birthday to Jessica!


Lori said...

How well I know so many of these feelings. It's very hard, after years of giving and of children being the core of your life, to let them out into the world. I know that's what we prepare them for and we want them to be independent, feeling, thinking people...but that doesn't make it any easier.

Less than a month now until my own "little girl" graduates and another stage of 'letting go' begins for us both. Stop time...for just a little while, please.