Leaving the Nest
There is a moment when you first hold your new born child when the responsibility for their life engulfs you like a tidal wave. I think that’s why I always felt the transition from having no children was the most life changing one – as each one of my children was born I felt the same protectiveness and desire for them but the realisation of responsibility had already encompassed me in that first moment when amazingly somehow I was holding a child that I had to care for, a child that was landed for good or ill with me as their mother. A real person had entered my life who was completely and utterly dependent on me and no one had checked that I was up to the job. I hadn’t had to revise, take an exam, get work experience or have an interview and yet my husband and I had the task of loving and caring for this new little girl and we really didn’t know what we were doing!
I remember gazing at this little person wriggling on our bed flooded with emotion that I had not known before, longing and praying so much for her.
My mother-in-law said then and frequently through the following years – enjoy it, it all goes so quickly and I would smile and agree but of course like so often in life not really understanding what she meant until the day when I sit here awake before the rest of the household - the day we are taking her to university.
I am surprised by my nostalgia. The basis of our parenting has always been to help our children grow towards independence; it has been a long process of letting go. From the early days of complete dependence, to the first morning at playschool, from holding her hand to school to waving goodbye at the station when she travelled to London for the first time on her own.
As I sit here I realise that it is not the letting go that is hard. It is the missing of a friend. When my children were small I shared with them the things I believed were important, essential, good or just fun. As they grew the tables gradually turned and they shared with me the things they discovered. They have introduced me to books, films, music, You Tube clips, humour and ideas which I would never have accessed before. I love the chats over tea, and even the disagreements over which radio station to listen to. I love reading the bible with my children and praying with them. These things have been part of our lives and now it will change. But that is all it is – yet another change. Everyone in our family feels it – but we will keep adjusting. The chats will be on Skype, and Facebook, jokes will be shared on Snapchat and Instagram – I love new technology!
I remain a parent the responsibilities change but the joys can become richer.
As I say goodbye to her today all the things I prayed for over the years really begin to kick in. The Lord will always be with her. His care is greater than anything I can muster. He is strong and reliable. He is the Father who never leaves us and the most incredible thing of all is we never have to leave his nest and we can keep on growing closer to Him.