my eldest daughter, savannah, came out of the womb independent. she’s been an efficient, can-do, organized, leader from the start. it’s brought me so much joy to cheer her on from the sidelines. she’s not needed me to run the same race as she’s been called to see how it’s done. she’s not needed us to bail her out of any trouble or bad decisions. oh i’m sure there’s been some little things along the way, but honestly she’s been a breeze to raise.
yesterday was a big day around here. she’s had a lot of them lately! but the excitement was palpable as we were all doing our morning routine before heading to the airport.
she & her lifelong bestie have dreamed for years, planned for months, & packed for days to backpack through europe for the next 5 weeks! savannah has made me proud for many many reasons, and yesterday was yet another one. let me break down a little bit of raising a true firstborn, as a first born myself.
i grew up with my love tank pretty much always on full. i didn’t “need” a lot emotionally or physically to be happy. i’m sure much of that was because the frame of my family was strong & intact and some of that is personality & temperament as well. as i’ve raised several teenage girls i’ve wondered if i remembered my own teen years perhaps a little more sunny then they actually were. so i’ve asked my mom several times along the way things like….”i remember being just a happy kid. was i indeed a happy kid?”- “i don’t remember arguing with you guys. did i argue & talk back to you guys?”…and so on. this past thanksgiving i asked my mom again, was i as happy a kid growing up as i remember? yes. yes she told me, you seemingly loved life & loved your friends. you were a happy kid.
my mom & i are wired a little differently. while she didn’t say this, she probably would have loved a little more time together with her own independent first born. maybe a few more words, maybe a few more hugs. as i’ve watched savannah grow up i’ve seen some of myself in her. as moms we see glimpses of ourselves in each of our kiddos don’t we? yet while i see the same joyful, full love tank, independent kid, i’ve seen so much more good in her. so much more wisdom. and i’ve often times wished i made the choices she’s made. another post for another day.
over the last several years my friends have asked questions such as “when’s savannah getting married?”, “what do you think she’ll do this summer?”, “what’s next for her?”. and you might find this funny, but often times i find the answers to those very questions when someone else asks her. i’ve tried to afford her the gift of trust as she’s grown up. while i love nothing more than spending time with my girls & hearing every little detail of their life, i want to balance that with allowing them to feel that i believe in them & trust them without needing to know every single solitary detail all the time. i’m more than certain i’ve dropped the ball with this and i’m more than certain my attempt to give, especially the first one as she’s the first to leave the nest, my girls some growing room has been interpreted as disinterest, which was never intended. (i also carry the firstborn trait of being hard on myself. ha!)
as a mom there’s a little something in each of us wiring us to need to be needed. but we need to lasso that need- to -be- needed fairly quickly. the highs & lows in our relationship with our kiddos can’t be based upon whether they need us to do everything for them, or simply need us to let them grow. make sense? when they’re little they need us to buckle their seat belts & tie their shoes. they need us to tell them why we believe the way we believe and that eating fried food everyday is not a good choice. they need us to wash their linens and yet they need us to teach them how to do it for themselves. but our need to be needed can’t trump their need to become independent.
when savannah first went off to college (& i hit the hardest wall emotionally that i never saw coming) i wanted to show her that i believed in her and that i knew she could do it. you know. do the college thing and the new friends thing & the new life thing on her own. i tried to not call her all the time even though i wanted to hop in the car & follow her around and meet all her new friends…and buckle her in. (kidding. ish) but you wanna know the weird thing? several months ago ( mind you. she just graduated so i’ve been doing this “give her space thing” for four years) i called her late one evening about something. she answered with an “are you ok? you never call me late at night”. and i wondered, did my effort to allow her freedom & independence come off as indifference? did my attempt to give her some space leave her to feel like perhaps i didn’t need her?
this parenting thing is tough you guys. just when i think i’ve figured out a phase i look back & think whoa…did i actually screw the previous one up?
but let me tell you something sweet and hopefully encouraging. the cool thing about raising awesome kids ( sorry. i brag about my girls. this world is freakin’ hard enough on them) is that one of the sweet things in the baton that you passed along to them is that sometimes they pass it back to you…in the form of grace. that same independent, efficient , can-do leader grows & matures and affords her mama a gift of grace. and first borns gifting grace back to their parents is truly a gift.
so back to yesterday…
we drove to the airport and talked about face-time and all the countries they’re heading to, being organized & efficient i didn’t have to say “so. did you pack everything you needed?”. of course she did. she saved her own money and she planned this entire trip….ON HER OWN. she didn’t need me to do one single thing for her. what she does need is to know that i am so flippin proud of her. she needs to know that i trust her. she needs to know that she is LOVED BIG!!
she’s got her “wanderlust” wrap and her “all who wander are not lost” cuff on. of course. she’s wearing her giving key & her be-still cross necklace ( hammered bronze two pieces move independently, but when you take a moment and are “still”, the pieces come to center and form a perfect cross-uber cool necklace!!-give philanthropy a call & they can hook you up!) and the ring from her sweetheart. ( side note. this is the fifth summer they’ve spent apart. each year the lord has called them to & placed them in different states…sometimes different countries. this summer is yet another. talk about wise choices? this relationship is for sure one of the wisest!). she joked about it being all her reminders of where she’s going & from where she comes.
just a moment ago she texted me that they’ve landed in london!!
it is perhaps the most awesome chapter in parenting to watch your children live out their dreams! ( especially when they board an international flight) she’s got a wanderlust spirit from both her dads! she’s got an independent soul from me! and she’s got a full love tank, not because of my strengths or my failures but because her hope is in the lord. no greater joy my friend, NO greater joy.
and perhaps, she’ll head back home to freshly washed sheets that she doesn’t really need to wash in the first place!
bon voyage savannah & bailey!!
(ps. shameless plug, but whatevs…you can follow along the hashtag #bestiesgobackpacking on my instagram or savannah’s for some fun international moments…and i’ll shamelessly blog about their adventures as well!)