One of my daughter’s favorite things to do as a little girl was to dress up as a princess and discover new treasures. Donning our gold, plastic crowns we ‘treasure hunted’ together. She sat mesmerized as I’d pick precious treasures from my jewelry box and place them in her hands while I told stories about where each one had come from.
Tori is no longer sitting next to me with a gold, plastic crown on her head. She turned 18 this summer and is entering her final year of high school. She was eager to begin her position as a Drum Major for her high school band.
The first day of band practice had arrived. My heart felt the impact of letting go as I helped her carry several bags of supplies to her truck. “Thanks Mom” she said as she slipped into the driver’s seat of her navy blue pick-up she calls Shevy the Chevy. “You’re welcome sweet girl.” 70’s music filled the air and I blew her a kiss goodbye.
I could not inhale deeply enough in that moment to loosen the weight I felt resting on my chest. I feared that if I had attempted to, she might notice and take on an additional invisible bag she need not carry.
My emotions threatened to breach the sacred space of her excitement as she drove away heading into a much larger territory than the space of our home.
A wall of cold air hit me as I opened the front door of our home. It was a welcomed and instant relief from the Texas heat. The overstuffed double chair received me just as I was…a mixture and mess of joy and sorrow. I sat in the silence, eyes brimming and heart vulnerably tender.
“You should be past this by now – you’ve navigated this letting go thing 3 times already.”
The harshness of my thoughts took me by surprise. I noticed. Quickly, a mental list of things to do appeared in my head gaining energy with a push to ‘toughen up and get busy’.
Sinking into the softness of my chair I gave myself permission to stay, to breathe, to tend to my heart and pay attention to what I was listening to. Letting go was just part of it. Regret was also nipping at my heart.
I remembered the words my daughter and I had exchanged the night before, words fueled with fear and passion over a painful and heavy decision she had been challenged to make…a big one. In an attempt to lighten her load, I offered my unsolicited advice, striving to change her mind and lead her away from the difficulty of her struggle.
“Why would you think about…”
“You should wait…”
“You should wonder about how your decision will affect…”
My words were birthed from my own need to relieve her pain coupled with my longing for Heaven on earth for her. I wanted to save her. I wanted to protect her, to shield her from my perceptions of the future and the possible what-if’s. She wanted her right to make her own decision.
Frustration had left us both in need of space to breathe.
It is in these moments that death comes for my mother’s heart. “Why did I have to say anything! Why couldn’t I just be quiet!” Doubt began to convince me I was lacking in my ability to mother my daughter. Guilt and doubt threatened to shame me to death for the day.
But death did not win.
I chose to pray. I asked for help for her and for me. I chose faith over fear.
Regret dissipated into relief as I considered the possibility of a re-do, a second chance to listen well and trust God for His provision. Lovingkindness came for my mother’s heart and created space to receive mercy that lifted me from my chair and invited me to life. I was still a mess of joy and sorrow, but dependent and willing to hold both feelings and wait.
Gratitude slowly replaced the gravity of the conflict as my focus changed throughout the day. I could see our daughter for who she is – a young adult exercising her right to choose.
God’s grace showed up in the midst of our re-do later that evening. Real treasure.
That is what I want to give my daughter as she moves into the larger territory of this world. I want to point her to Jesus, to share the witness of my need for our Savior’s grace. I want to bless her integrity to choose kindness for her heart. I want her to know that no matter how many or how big her mistakes, God is present and faithful to give us second chances.
Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 26 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.