As soon as my eyes opened, my gut tightened with the awareness that today was supposed to be a day of great celebration. Yet, I wasn’t sure I wanted this day to begin. I was sure I wanted to keep this moment a little longer. . .maybe a lot longer.
Her alarm was packed, so until I woke her, my precious 18-year-old daughter would lie asleep in her room directly above ours. Until I woke her and we got in the car, she still lived at home. I could make sure her every physical and emotional need was met to the best of my ability.
My heart and stomach were painfully aware that today would be one of the last days I’d see her half-morning smiles that made my day and got me going. . .and see her lumber down the stairs with one of our dogs beside her. I was painfully aware I would miss her presence and laughter and piano playing in our home.
If I just stayed in bed, her living at home was still reality. I longed to hold onto this stage of life and her. It wasn’t that it had been predictable or perfect. But for 18 years she was close at hand. And, at that moment, proximity seemed everything to parenting.
I lay there thinking that I should warn other mothers about this day and what on earth they could do to avoid it. Before I ever rolled over in the bed, the words to a warning began to write themselves.
“Dare to Dream” was the headline with a line through the “Dare to” and above it “DO NOT.” The words continued to flow — automatically as if I was identifying what had brought us to this point.
Chapter 1: My thoughts started —
When you hold your baby girl and rock her, resist the urge to dream of all the great things you’re going to teach her and introduce her to in this big, wonderful world, of all the great places you’re going to take her and of all the great experiences you can’t wait to give her.
Buy her tiny baby earplugs and wear a mask so when you look into her precious face and are overwhelmed with her beauty and the joy of being her mother, and just can’t resist telling her God made her special and beautiful and smart and that God has some really great plans for her and He will take her far and wide, then she won’t be able to hear you.
Because on this day, it all comes into sharp focus and you realize telling your daughter these things and introducing her to God’s big, wonderful world has resulted in her believing these things. The aggregate of all the experiences you have given her and things you taught her are now culminating in her moving away to college, too far to come home for short weekends.
My emotions screamed: “You should not have dreamed! Look at where this has gotten you!”
Chapter 1 is just a warning. Not following it will also result in a lot of pride and joy seeing your daughter grow up and dream dreams and have the confidence with God to hear and follow Him. While this will result in an empty bed in your house … you can go there and lie down and rest from the physical and emotional tired of raising that baby girl and dream a new dream.
Learn from those of us emptying the nest to enjoy every minute you have with your precious blessings called children. It won’t last as long as it seems. Slow down to look into their eyes each day and listen — just listen.
It won’t be long before you may be searching your daughter’s, as well as some college’s, Facebook and Instagram sites to catch a glimpse of your child’s face. Enjoy it now!
Martha Elizabeth, it’s time to get it up!
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