Savoring the Picture Perfect Moments

My eighteen year old Emily is graduating from high school this week. We’ve had a month packed full of incredibly enjoyable activities. Tons of fabulous picture perfect moments. From prom to powder puff football and parties galore – it’s been a busy month for both of us which probably accounts for the fact that my house is a chaotic mess. I’m behind on the laundry, my closet is a wreck and the dining room table (aka my “work space”) is unrecognizable. As I was shuffling through graduation announcements, bills, and whatnot stacked on the table last week – I noticed a book by Erma Bombeck underneath pile. I picked it up, casually flipped through the pages and let my eyes quickly scan the words. Here’s what I read:

“I see children as kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground.
You run with them until you’re both breathless … they crash … you add a longer tail … they hit the rooftop … you pluck them out of the spout. You patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly.
Finally they are airborne, but they need more string so you keep letting it out.
With each twist of the ball of twine there is a sadness that goes with the joy, because the kite becomes more distant, and somehow you know it won’t be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that bound you together and soar as it was meant to soar – free and alone.
Only then do you know that you did your job.”

I have to tell you, when I read that I put the book down and sobbed. I sat for a good twenty minutes just balling my eyes out. Heaving and crying as my heart was howling, “She’s leaving. My precious little Emi is leaving … and things will never be the same.”

Now you might think I was a bit overdramatic – a smidge over the edge. But as a mother I realize that each of those fun activities, those picture perfect moments represent a “twist of the ball of twine.” And with the joy – there is a sadness too because in a few short months “that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline” that has bound us together. And she will soar as she was meant to soar – “free and alone.”

Now here is the part where I could completely fall apart as a mother. Just thinking of my Emily soaring away from me is frightening and sad and it all seems very wrong. And the truth is I would rather hold that twine tightly, very tightly so that I don’t lose her.

But then … I wouldn’t be doing my job.

So I slowly twist away, savoring each of the picture perfect moments. And I thank my gracious God for the unbelievable opportunity of mothering Emily.