Published August 2014: The Messenger – Faith: A Fresh Take
Looking into the Future: Faith and Freedom
Each year, on the first day of school, I make my children line up outside so I can take their picture. As they get older, they groan and moan about this tradition, but after some prodding, they line up on the back deck in front of the large cherry apple tree and smile for a few seconds so I can capture the moment.
It never fails, each year I tear up and tell them how I can’t believe how grown they are, which has become quite embarrassing for two teenagers. The realization that my daughter is entering her junior year in high school and my son entering his eighth-grade year just doesn’t sit well with me. It’s a milestone that we all anticipate as parents, yet we long for time to slow down so we can have just a few more years with them versus anticipating the move to college.
This summer, especially, was full of teary mom moments as my daughter and I visited several colleges. As we wandered through campus buildings and visited residence halls, I could see the excitement in my daughter’s eyes. Not once did she seem scared or nervous about the freedom of living on her own and jumping into a new world without mom right there. She seemed liberated by the idea of attending classes, taking on responsibilities on her own and living with roommates.
I, on the other hand, sat through the presentations with tears in my eyes. I’m not ready to let go (and luckily, I still have two more years to prepare) and I’m not sure how she will manage on her own. While I trust my daughter and have faith in her ability to succeed, I also know that this is the child I have to remind to pick up the towels on the bathroom floor, rid her room of cups and chip bags and nag her about book reports and high school essays.
As we were driving along from one university to the next, I asked her how she would survive living on her own. She seemed confused by my question, so I prodded further. Do you know how to do laundry, change a tire, pump gas, use a debit card or replace a furnace filter? She smiled, put her hand on mine and said, “Mom, I will learn.”
Even though she could have been offended by what appeared to be my lack of trust in her abilities, instead, she was tuned into the fact that I was struggling with losing her. It was one of those pivotal moments in our relationship when I realized that I have to trust my daughter and have faith in how she plans to make the most of her freedom. Most of all, I have to trust that I have raised her with the skills, morals and know-how of being an adult.
Although I’m thankful that we have a few more years to prepare for her impending freedom and move to college, I hope to use this time to learn that letting go is another one of the milestones in life. I won’t be able to take her picture that first day of college, but I will be able to send her a prayer and have faith in the remarkable young woman she has grown to be over the years. Until then, I’m still hoping that time will slow down.
— Shannon Philpott