My eldest is "in a relationship", as her Facebook status informed me this week. *SIGH* Uncharted territory we're treading here.
I still vividly remember, late in my pregnancy with her, lying in a full bathtub trying to get a break from the belly weight. I looked at that belly, considered the little girl inside, and thought, "Someday, someone's going to hurt her. Some little snit out there is going to step on her feelings . . or crush her spirit . . or break her heart. And I can't do anything about it. I can't stop it from coming, and when it comes, I won't be able to take the pain away." I sobbed. It was overwhelming in the midst of the pregnant hormones also raging in me.
Every day, when I drop her off at school, I pray on the way out of the parking lot and ask God to protect her in every way: physically, intellectually, spiritually . . and emotionally. I decided this morning as I prayed that prayer that it's probably a good thing that it's not my job to protect her emotionally anymore because I don't have a clue how.
I don't know this boy. But even if I did know this boy, I wouldn't really know this boy. I don't really know her friends, even the ones I know. And as well as I know her, only God knows the nooks and crannies of her heart -- the particular bend of her spirit -- the strong and weak places in her soul. Only He knows which weak spots need protection and which need to be challenged to become stronger. Only He knows what will strengthen her and what will destroy her. If the responsibility for her emotional growth was in my hands, that would be a tragedy.
I know I have homeschooling friends who questioned my decision to put her in school full-time this year. People homeschool for many reasons, but a primary reason for some folks is to protect their children, in all those ways I mentioned. I sympathize with that mindset. Children need protecting. But she is no longer a child. Not yet an adult (much to her surprise, I'm sure), but no longer a child. To think that I know how to protect her is arrogant. To think that I could protect her even if I knew how, even more so.
Now, don't anyone panic and think that I'm abdicating my parental responsibilities here. I'm still protecting my daughter, as much as I can. I'm just realizing how little of that is actually in my hands -- and how much of it thankfully is in God's.
It's scary to let go control of your child. But it's sobering to realize that I never really had control. And more scary to think of the consequences if I had.