It’s been a few weeks now since you left. And while I can’t say that I miss you any less than I did those first few days, there’s something normal, something rhythmic about the missing you now that feels familiar enough to not catch me off guard quite as quickly quite as often. I’m glad– because less hurt is always good– but it makes me sad, too.
Sad because while I know that this particular parting is just for a season, I am reminded that some day, it will not be. Some day, there will be no end date. Some day, you will be on your own for well and for good.
Amazing that something we have prayed and worked and planned so much for can be so bittersweet, isn’t it?
I love seeing you fly. I love hearing your voice on the phone, beaming about some new thing you learned, or in misery over something you’re sure you will never, ever be able to understand (but you always do, don’t you?). I love that you are looking for a strong church, that you have already found a tribe of friends who challenge you to expand your heart but also have firm footing in the Lord.
I love that you’re doing it.
I am blessed that you are emailing your brothers, texting with your mentors, asking for pictures of the littles, laughing at the snippets of audio I send you in an effort to feel you despite the 2,500 miles between us. I love that you are excited to come home still, to find your newly defined space in our family and wear it a little while longer, until you have outgrown it altogether.
The outgrowing will come. And that is good, and natural. Some day I should not expect you to think of our family Christmas tree as your own; some day, the one you select with your husband will be the one you think of when you say, “our tree.” Some day “Home” in your cell contacts will be the house where you sleep at night with the circle of people who God knits around you to take your breath away as their wife, their mother. Some day, when people ask, “How many in your family?” your mind will not go immediately to the number 11, but to whatever you are blessed with in your own nest.
It’s not yet. But it’s coming. This is the first in the series of lasts. And I know it. Oh, how I know it.
I won’t be with you for your eighteenth birthday. And while that’s a rawness new to me, it’s somehow a perfect transition. You see, it’s your birthday. Always has been. But we Mommas, well … we can take those days and make them about us. We can make the day less about who you are here and now, and instead celebrate our place, our role, our miracle. We can cast back over 18 years (a lifetime!) of individual moments and cherry pick the ones we decide define you, instead of leaning in and listening to the person you’ve become share with us all the things that God has illuminated in your heart to shape you towards the purpose you’re reaching for now.
I loved you as a slippery, red baby draped on my chest for the first time. I loved you as a spunky three-year old finding ways to try and dissuade me from putting that useful but awful patch on your eye every morning. I loved you when you were obsessed with rabbits, when you failed to score a goal in that one, ill-fated go at soccer, when you wore the same sweatshirt for weeks on end, when you discovered music.
But that’s not who you are today. It’s part of the whole, but there’s more. So much more. Some of it I will see, but much of it I will not. Much of it will be invisible, small things that radically shift my definition of you. I mean, what will I do if you suddenly despise apples? I can’t picture it. It doesn’t fit into the box I have labelled “Mary Hannah.” But that box?
It’s yours to fill. It’s yours to define. It’s your life.
I apologize in advance for the moments I will forget this. I apologize for the moments I will think you are 12, not 31. I apologize for the way my heart will break just a little when I get what I have always prayed for: a daughter of faith, following God’s will, not mine, into a future designed to glorify Him.
I will stumble many times on this growing up path, but I will never apologize for loving you. I have been honored to witness you bloom from baby to woman. I don’t regret a moment spent on this journey that has taken us to this place where you find yourself. You have always been your own person, of course. But now? Now you are shaping the corners and beginning to fill in the details as God reveals them to you.
Thank you for letting me continue to have a voice in this beautiful season. Thank you for the road ahead. Thank you for missing me, just a little bit, too. I can’t wait to watch you find your footing, love.