This month ushers in a new phase of our lives. My middle daughter Kaia leaves for college at the end of the month. Now, it’s not as if I haven’t done this before. That’s what makes it so hard. I know what’s coming.
Last night, the girls and I sat in the living room together talking, laughing, and eating ice cream topped with homemade whipped cream (Kaia strikes again) after a trip to the gym. The girls and I reminisced about some past event when Kaia said these words: “Remember when Nia and I were children and we…”
Honestly, I can’t remember what she said next. The door slammed shut on that phrase and locked all other thoughts out. Remember when Nia and I were children. As if she didn’t turn 18 a few short months ago.
It’s not as if what she said isn’t true. Kaia is 18 years old, and society bestowed adulthood on her before she could understand what HIPPA meant. The girl who texts me to ask me whether or not she should call or email her professor to make sure she was added to the correct first-year seminar can legally prevent me from seeing her grades.
As Kaia’s “take” area in her room grows larger and larger, I wonder what part of her faith life she will take with her. I lie awake at 3:30 AM wondering if I’ve done enough. We should have prayed more, I tell myself. I should have read the Bible to them more often. What was I thinking? Now it’s too late.
As always, I share these thoughts with you to encourage you in your walk with your children. While I’m equal parts excited and devastated for Kaia to leave, I know that her journey as my child begins anew in many ways. I know this the way many of you with older children know. Once they get away, they realize how much they still have to learn. And you know that while you could always do more, you’ve often done enough. Here’s how I know this.
As Kaia prepares to leave, our oldest daughter Nia returns home for a couple of weeks before entering one of our dioceses’ intentional communities. Starting in September, Nia will work as a musician at one of our churches while she discerns her next steps in community with other young adults.
Several months ago, Nia had no idea what her next steps would be. She lived a worried, stressed-filled life of dread. When the head of the program asked me if she would consider applying, I remember thinking there’s no way. The church had its chance with her, and she’s done. Then, she asked, What if it included music? God found Nia and let her know that God had a place for her.
I’m thankful for Nia’s return to Cincinnati of her own volition to join this faith community despite her doubts that The Episcopal Church held a space for her after five years away from home with no active faith life. Remember when Nia and I were children? Yes, Nia remembers and found her faith in those memories.
Nia comes back in, Kaia goes out, and then Nia goes out again. I’m thankful that Jaiya remains a child for the next three years. I’m grateful for my girls’ faith foundation. And I’m thankful that the church and its people always welcome them home. Because, like me, they too remember when Nia and Kaia were children. They will always be children in my eyes, and in God’s.
What memories do you create with your children as they approach the next phase in their lives? How do you preserve your memories?
Photo of the girls at the Huron River in Nichols Arboretum, Ann Arbor, MI, 2013