As in, unclenching my fist and letting go. As in, letting go of my girl, who in my mind is still the sweetly bald 7 pounder I brought home from the hospital oh….24 years ago or so. This is hard.
It shouldn’t be. She’s my grown girl, already married and with a girl of her own, and yet… She’s been away from here by 7 hours for over a year now and there was hope that soon her little family would wing its way back South to be near the family of her birth, but it wasn’t to be. At least not right now. And this Mama is finding it a little (OK, a lot) hard to unclench and let my little girl fly. We are Southern women, and we always want to be near our Mamas. (In fact, when my husband was searching for a new job a few years ago, one stipulation was that I could not be more than 4 hours away from my Mama. And I’m not – we live 3 hours away.)
She’s not going any further away than she already is, just in a different direction, but 7 hours away can feel like 17 hours sometimes, even with all the technology that helps us stay in touch (FaceTime, anyone? If you had told me when I was a young grasshopper that one day we would talk on phones without a cord and SEE the person we’re talking to… well, that was the stuff of Star Trek, my friends. Beam me up, Scotty!). And what gets me is how all of a sudden I start to second-guess my parenting of her. Yet all I have to do is look at her own well-loved girl to know that, with the grace of God, I must have done something right. She is an excellent mother and I flatter myself by thinking maybe, just maybe, she learned a little of that from me.
A wise woman once told me that you do the best job you can raising your kids, then you have to let them go and trust them to do the right thing. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. Did I train her up in the way she should go? Is she really not going to depart from it? Did I teach her all the things I should have? Her upbringing is different from the one her sisters are experiencing, if for no other reason than the age difference between the three of them. I used to jokingly tell her that she was my “practice baby” which isn’t all that far from the truth because don’t the two coming behind receive the benefit of a somewhat experienced mother? And do we ever stop mothering our children, whether they’re grown or not? I have to say no, based on the way my 89 year old grandmother still tells my 70 year old mother what to do.
I don’t know why this move should bother me any more than the first one. And I know her little family will be loved and taken care of, because she will be near her mother-in-love, who is a dear woman. And so I am unclenching my fist and I am letting go. I can already feel the beginnings of That Peace: you know, the one that passes all understanding, because I surely don’t understand it. It’s because of That Peace and the One who gives it that I am strong enough to let go, strong enough to smile through my tears and strong enough to reassure her that she will have a wonderful life in that new city. I’m already looking forward to visiting her there.