Tuesday, May 18, 2010
It’s always been my feeling that God lends you your children until they’re about eighteen years old. If you haven’t made your points with them by then, it’s too late~ Betty Ford
To My Daughter
August 9, 2010 is going to arrive too soon. My second child and only daughter, Naomi Alise, is preparing to leave for college, and the family unit will change forever. This is not a surprise to me, and yet, I am deeply surprised by how quickly this day is speeding toward us. I’m not quite finished with her. I feel betrayed by time.
This is a happy and healthy step in the expected, and hoped for, chain of milestones. She is eager and ready to leave, but I am not nearly ready to let her go. I need to have a few more tea parties with her, read Go Dog, Go (“Do you like my hat?”), and make more creations with play dough. I want to tell her, “Wait a minute!” and have her stand still. And in that time I would hurry to fill her head with the things about life that I am afraid I forgot to tell her. But standing still, she would impatiently reply, “Yes, Mom, I know. You’ve already told me.”
Eighteen years ago, as I stood over her crib watching her breathe; I had so many dreams, thoughts, and promises running through my head. “These are the days when doorknobs are unreachable, the summer is long, and high school graduation takes forever to arrive.” In my thoughts, I told her of the plans and dreams I had for us. I promised her hot chocolate and camp fires in winter and mud pies and bugs in the spring. We would do art projects and make surprises for her daddy. And I promised her experience. We would examine sand and flowers and rocks and snowflakes. We would smell the grass, the ocean and burning wood. I would have the gift of learning about our world once again, as she absorbed it for the first time. I would also commit to lifting my girl in prayer to the Father who blessed us with the gift of a daughter.
We experienced so much more than I had dreamed on that night long ago. We endured many of life’s painful interruptions; Dad losing his job, adding 4 more brothers to the mix, and moving more times than we wanted. When the continuity of our plans had to pause to accommodate change, we grew from the joys, the trials, the coping. I never promised her that all of our experiences would be happy, just that her father and I, along with the Lord, would be there with unconditional love and unquestioning support.
When August is actually here, I will keep the final promise I made to my baby daughter; “With the Lord’s help and wisdom, I will guide you as safely as I can to the threshold of adulthood; and there, I will let you go… for the days quickly pass when tea parties are for little girls, Go Dog, Go is for reading to the cousins, and play dough doesn’t taste as good as you remembered.”
As I prepare to let her go, I reflect upon her first day of kindergarten, when I , like countless mothers before me, said goodbye to an excited child, who couldn’t wait to stretch her wings and start the process of learning how to fly on her own. I had tears in my eyes as she walked proudly into that classroom with her new backpack and new shoes. I cried for the days that had passed by faster than I wanted them to.
I know that in August, when I leave this child at her new college dorm, she will, once again, see tears in my eyes as I say goodbye to that baby girl and cry for the days that had passed all too quickly. There are still so many experiences I want her to have and find joy in. I pray she will find a godly, nurturing spouse, be stretched in her journey with the Lord more than she ever thought possible and make friends for life. I want her to make wise choices, have influential professors and eat healthy.
I have done the best I possibly could with the precious blessing God has given us in our daughter, Naomi Alise Van Setten. The rest is in God’s hands. Eighteen years ago I watched her breathe. Tomorrow I will watch her fly.