Tomorrow we take our daughter to college

Aug 18, 2011Family Uncaged

Sophie and I laughed today as we autocompleted each others’ sentences. We’ve noticed it more and more as the day draws near that she’ll leave us. As I’ve talked to some of her friends, the consensus has typically been that their mothers are driving them nuts and they’re ready to leave for college.

But not so, us.

Which is why I’m tearing up as I type this.

I adore my daughter Sophie, and she loves me. We are close, close enough to finish each others’ sentences. I can look at her and know exactly what she’s thinking. She does the same for me.

I am incredibly proud of her, how much she loves Jesus, how she thinks deeply about Jesus, how much she loves and sacrifices for her brother and sister. I love her heart. I still marvel at how beautifully she adapted to France, and how her evangelistic heart blossomed there. She led her friend to Christ (or rather, she got to watch the Holy Spirit woo her friend). She endured taunting about her faith. She grew up, then owned her faith on the shores of Southern France.

And then she jumped into American life, tentative at first, wholehearted at the last. She made many significant friendships. She blessed her teachers and leaders. She followed Jesus to Ghana. She prayed for her friends.

Oh dear Jesus, how I’ll miss her.

What an incredible privilege it is to be her mom, to watch her blossom and grow and stretch. I cannot wait to see how God unfolds her life, how He will lead her to do great and mighty things in His strength. She is grounded, yet she will fly. And in that, my heart soars with her.

I used to fear I wouldn’t be a good mother. I read so many parenting books, worrying myself to death. But eventually, I slipped into who I was and felt God give me a holy confidence in my parenting. This shifted when Sophie was in grade school where I morphed from a fear-stricken mom to a joyfully settled one.

The journey of parenthood is, of course, wrought with mistakes and sin aplenty. I’ve had to confess many shortcomings. I’ve had to say the important 7 words: I was wrong, will you forgive me? And Sophie has said those back to me, to us. In the shelter of community that is our home, we’ve all learned to navigate our sinfulness, and somehow, by God’s grace, have come through loving each other fiercely.

I feel as if my heart will break apart, and Aidan and Julia seem to feel the weight of Sophie’s absence already. They are all close, and they love each other in a way I don’t often see in siblings.

Though France was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a parent, I see now the beautiful gift it was to my children and our family. We had to band together. We endured much there. And as we did, God knit our hearts  in ways I still can’t quantify.

We sat across from each other today for lunch, just the two of us, at our favorite Rockwall restaurant, Chiloso. She said, “The last time I packed like this, we were moving to France.”

On that extended stay, God changed her life. And now as she packs for college, the same is true.

But this time I won’t go with her.