How do you say goodbye to your baby, when it’s time to let her go?
How do you say goodbye, when you would give anything to go back 18 years and hold onto every last moment you’ve ever had, wishing you could raise her all over again?
How do you say goodbye, when everything in you aches with worry and angst, knowing you can’t be with her through all the days that will unfold without your guidance, without your care, without your safeguards, without you there?
How do you say goodbye, when you feel your heart is being ripped out of your chest and left to beat on its own so very far away from home?
How do you say goodbye, when it feels like this life you’ve spent 18 years constructing is cracking open at its foundation and letting go of a vital piece that holds it all together?
How do you say goodbye, when you aren’t done pouring love and speaking life into the carefully consecrated bond you have created with your child, knowing full-well your relationship will change with every mile between you and every step she takes away from the life you once knew?
How do you say goodbye when your baby is still a baby, so young and naïve with so much more growing up to do?
How do you say goodbye, when you aren’t finished teaching the countless life skills she will need to survive and thrive in this world and you question how much she’s learned?
How do you say goodbye when you imagine so many things that could go wrong, considering every possible problem that might occur, wondering how she will manage hard people and hard situations and hard decisions she will inevitably face?
How do you say goodbye when you want more than anything for this transitional bridge from childhood to adulthood to be extended with shorter steps and more stops and less distance between you? When you have so many more words of wisdom to offer?
How do you say goodbye, when you’ve spent 18 years tethered to your child, and you must accept that as she’s grown and become her own, those threads have frayed and withered away to form one strand slipping out of your hand?
How do you say goodbye when this life you’ve lived, this world you’ve known, this role you’ve played for all this time will shift into the emptiness of waiting and wondering who you will become after she’s gone?
How do you say goodbye when you know you must be practical and positive even though you’re crumbling under the weight of all this worry, of all this surrender, of all this uncertainty?
How do you say goodbye when your child lets go of your grasp, peeling your fingers away, forcing them to curl up inside your own trembling grip, empty of hers?
How do you say goodbye and have the peace in believing that she will be well and cared for and safe without your presence, without your provision, without your protection?
How do you say goodbye when you will be left with a deserted bedroom, full of all the fading memories evaporating in the air with a faint lingering smell of the baby who grew up and left her childhood there?
How do you say goodbye when parenting this child has never been about you, and it never will be, and the culmination of this truth climaxes when you set her free?
How do you say goodbye, when you must sacrifice your own needs to support your baby’s growing identity, believe in your baby’s hopes, and have confidence in all she’s dreamed to be?
How do you say goodbye when you know with your entire being, this is the right thing to do, and this child of yours was born to fly, and all along, your job was to prepare a clear runway for takeoff?
How do you say goodbye and trust that all you have given her through the years, all you have taught her and offered her and said to her and modeled for her has created a secure launching ground for her departure?
How do you say goodbye and have confidence that you did enough, you were enough, and you gave enough for her to travel this journey with the courage and faith and strength and wisdom, she’ll need to make it on her own?
How do you say goodbye when you’ve run out of time too quickly, when it seems to have happened too fast, when you are faced with the fact that it’s time to let go?
I don’t know…
But I will do my best to hold my heart together and hold my head high, and hold the intensity of this moment inside, because I know that’s what she needs more than anything in order for her to let go of me.
And I will keep reminding myself over and over again…
That there is nothing more profound and beautiful and fulfilling than holding your baby’s life in the palm of your hands through all the years you’ve raised her, to then gradually, gruelingly, and gratefully release it, and watch it soar out into the world where it was always meant to be.
This is a contributed post by Christine Carter. She writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. Her work is published on several various online publications and she is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.