Like many parents I partake in the ever so popular back-to-school picture in front of the house, or at school, etc. This year was no different. Take a picture, share it with friends via text or on Facebook, that’s usually the drill.
Although I did take a picture of my daughter in front of the house this year (she does humor her mom), I did not post it, or share it, until now. I figured that if I did not share her back-to-school picture, I would not have to face reality. You see, this is my daughter’s senior year of high school. Oh, how reality has struck, and dare I say, I don’t like it, but I know that I have to accept it. Not only that, I should celebrate it!
Don’t get me wrong, I know that we have raised a young woman who has demonstrated that she is strong in her perseverance, confident in her abilities, with caring and kindness in her heart. It shows, with all that she has accomplished, with all whom she meets, and with all she is working to achieve.
As I have been thinking about this school year and looking toward the next several months, I see myself learning to let go. I find myself mourning the loss of that little girl I once knew, and learning from the young woman that is thriving in front of me.
A pastor once said to me something that will always stay with me, long after she goes off to college and starts her own life. “Do you accept that your daughter is who she is, despite whom you are?” At first I thought it was a trick question. I didn’t understand what he meant, but after further discernment I realized that as parents, we provide our children the tools that they need or what we think they need as they create their own path in life. As parents we can tell a child that they need to study, go to class, clean their room, come home on time, etc. But the reality is that it is the child’s choice. Whether we like the choice or not, we are left hoping that our children make the right choice. But really, what makes it the “right choice”? Is only right because that is the choice I would make? Or rather is it a choice that is “right” for her?
We are well into the school year, and in the midst of plans for homecoming, marching band performances, spring break, prom, and graduation, not to mention college and university visits and applications. I am learning to accept that in the past I was the caregiver, the one who “called the shots,” and that my role has transitioned to consultant and advisor. I realize now more than ever, that I am not letting her go; I am sharing her with the world!
Gabriela Contreras is director for meeting planning.