“Get your house in order,” seasoned church mothers often crooned during Sunday service when I was young adult. The women who sang from experience loved to exalt the importance of preparation. A rendition done with excellence by gospel artist Dottie Peoples in 1994. The premise of the song was to serve as warning to the listener, to take care of things before it was too late. My mother often framed it differently, toting “never get caught with your panties down.” I was struck by these very things this week as I watched my daughter open college acceptance letters. Often squealing ever so slightly as the prospect of her future bubbled on the inside. I also squealed every so slightly to match the joy that emanated from her core, but deep inside of me the truth of her pending departure loomed.
The end of her childhood chapter in our home was coming to a swift conclusion and I wondered was my house in order. Was she going to leave my home the very way she came in, with total acceptance, value, wholeness, and my presence? My daughter had spent many years in my home under my tutelage. I had answered her questions, held her hand, nursed her wounds, and loved her, deeply. She’d been a constant in my home, heart, and mind since she entered this world. How will I ever leave her at the doorstep of her new life? A person so very close to me that I’d give my very life so that she could have what she needed in hers, and it felt like I was, giving my life away, part of it anyway.
This has been a time of deep reflection for me. Learning to deal with grief and loss when she is still snuggled next to me on the couch. This experience has taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. I had years to prepare, but as she examined her future without me, the loss is more real this past week than it’s been, ever. Today, as I sat reflecting, I was stuck by how many times I’ve uttered the word “I”. How am I going to feel? What am I going to do?
Amazingly, the revelation came to me that this moment is not about me at all. It is about her. My daughter’s growth and development, her enjoyment, and her life. Just like the song identified, lots of things are going on around me that can’t be controlled. Her adulthood is on the horizon and it is up to her to decide how she’ll navigate the terrain. As her mother, I have purposed to reframe my thought process and adopt a mantra that I held back when she was first learning to ride a bike, “I’m not letting her go, I’m letting her grow”. Thankfully, it is now up to her to decide to get her house in order, because she no longer belongs in mine. And I can rest in knowing that the foundation underneath her launch pad is fortified with love and definitely strong enough to carry her and the life she chooses.