The experts say: when your child is moving away from home, don’t let your him or her see you cry! Smile with your child; cry with other parents.
I tried to follow their advice, I really did. I rarely cry; but one recent day, with two of my sons’ departures to out-of-state locations less than a week away, the tears were welling up and overflowing. So, I sneaked outside to my favorite place of escape and reflection – a swing behind the garage in our backyard. There, in the dappled sun and swishing of leaves in a breeze, the sadness seeped out.
Then I heard the back door creak open and shut… hopefuly just someone letting the dogs out. But, very-human-sounding footsteps padded closer. Hurriedly, I swiped away the evidence.
My son peeked around the corner. As he stepped closer, he began to tell me about the eye-glasses he’d just picked up. I tried to answer, only to discover my nose was completely clogged. I sounded like I was suffering from an instant, horrendous virus. But he knew I wasn’t. He stopped mid-sentence, tipped his head, and asked, “Are you ok?”
Caught, red-handed. Or should I say red-eyed.
“No, not really,” I answered, trying to smile as my tear ducts betrayed me.
He sat beside me, and I thought (as my friend said later when I told her the story), to h… with the experts. I love this kid, and it’s breaking my heart to think of not seeing him every day.
And that’s exactly what I said to him…
I’m crying because I like you so very much. I love you, but I also thoroughly enjoy you. No one else can ever take your place. There’s a spot in my heart reserved forever and always for you. And when I’m not with you, that space aches.
I’m not crying because I’m worried you won’t be able to make it on your own. You are strong, capable, personable, funny, determined, smart, and absolutely amazing. You are ready for this. No one believes in you more than me.
I’m not crying because you are leaving. My greatest joy is to help you discover who God made you to be and empower you to fulfill His design. He’s created and shaped this opportunity for you, and I have no doubt you are stepping into His purpose for you. Feeling confident about this fills me with inexpressible happiness.
I’m not crying in hopes that you will understand how sad I am and come back as soon as possible. No, I raised you to be a global citizen and to love the world God created. If He calls you to move to Kenya, or Haiti, or London, no one will cheer louder than me or send you with more joy. If you are going where He wants you to go, you are exactly where I want you to be.
No, I’m only crying because I’m overwhelmed with the goodness of the gift of you. And I’ll miss you.
And perhaps in the end, no matter what the experts say, authenticity is the purest gift in relationship. And no matter where you go, my authentic love for you, relationship with you, and delight in you will never end. Maybe seeing your mama cry will help you remember that.