I've been thinking about, and sitting on this topic, for weeks...maybe even months. I hope this doesn't come off as syrupy, or overly dramatic. I hope too, it doesn't come off as crazed rambling of my over-active mama brain. What I want, is for you to come away understanding how I feel now...
Zach, my sweet man-child, when you were a senior in high school, I spent a great deal of time in denial about you growing up, and lamenting the loss of having you at home. It's been over a year since we packed up your belongings and sent you off to college. In this past year I've learned more than I ever thought possible about all three of you growing up and leaving our nest. I've learned I don't lose anything when I let you spread your wings. The joy I see on your face when you test the path to adulthood and see success is nothing short of breathtaking. I've learned that the loss I thought I was going to have, turned into gaining more than I ever thought possible. Your friends are an extension of you. They reflect what you see in the world, and it's a true blessing to be able to get to know you through them. By bringing them home you share so much and give us so much joy. When you come home for weekends, we get not only you back, but we get the opportunity to bring more and more people into our little family.
Two weeks ago, Lucas, you attended a leadership seminar in Maryland. You were a bundle of jitters when I was dropping you off. You, my sweet blond boy, are the one who never so much as raises an eyebrow at me (at least that I can see), snapped at me. Not once, but twice. I knew your nerves were jangling, and deservedly so. You were going into the great unknown. You didn't know a soul attending this conference with you. You had to share a room with two people you never met before. It was all so new and foreign...going off for a long weekend to learn how to lead, to learn about national security and to grow a little. Your face when we picked you up showed that you not only survived, but thrived. You beamed. The smile...your wide, brilliant smile spread from ear to ear. Chatter filled all the spaces in the confines of the car as we drove toward home. You couldn't stop talking about your experience and how fantastic your time at the National Youth Leadership Forum was. Pride flowed through my veins as I saw what happened to you in your time away. You grew up, not just a little, but a lot. This time, though, it didn't make me sad to see you grow. It reinforced what I've learned since we took Zach to school. Growing up and spreading your wings is a phenomenal thing.
Claire, you too, are testing the path to adulthood. And the joy you emit is contagious as you begin to set your course. Your determination, drive and positive self-image are beyond the scope of anything I could have ever imagined for you. You, my baby girl, will do big things.
I see great things in all of your futures, my darlings. You are supposed to go forth and set the world on fire. I know that now. And while it does put a lump in my throat to think of you not being here every day, it would be beyond selfish of me to ask you to push your dreams to the side to make me happy. You are supposed to go and fly. I've seen first hand what happens when a child's wings are clipped. There is no chance to chase dreams, no chance to fly, no chance to see what is really possible. I hope don't just fly. I hope you soar!
So fly, my babies, fly. But know I will be here anytime your wings need a place to rest and call home.
This is I do for the love of my children...