Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.
This was the poem read at the New Student Convocation today at Seattle Pacific University.
As the bagpipes played, and the speeches were made, I finally had my moment where all the floodgates of my heart opened wide, and everything raw within me burst to the surface. Then, I spilled my coffee on the lady in front of me.
Up until this weekend, I didn’t fully estimate the emotional impact of dropping my child off at college. It’s taken me about a year to prepare my heart for this moment, and I am still in a total, emotional fuzz. Thankfully, Steve is crying as much… or even more than me, so I know it’s not a female thing. We are just a mess of parents.
Everyone says the first child is the hardest, but it’s more than just dropping off a kid. It’s about parenthood. It’s about watching God work faithfully in our child, and seeing how He has taken her dreams and talents and made them real.
It’s about the importance of never underestimating, dismissing, and displacing our child’s dreams. It’s far too easy to think practical and logical as a parent, when maybe God wants us to think BIG and IMPRACTICAL so He can show His Mighty Hand in their lives. This has been our experience.
Tonight, after Convocation, we went out for an amazing dinner. Stephen told Julia to dream big, only as my husband can. He commissioned her, and we all sniffled and cried through our final dinner before the goodbye.
That last hug in the parking lot to say goodbye to our daughter tonight was BRUTAL. The three of us held on to each other and cried for awhile. She then looked at us with her big blue eyes and long eye lashes, with tears streaming down her freckled cheeks, and said, “I love you both so much. Thank you for everything.”
We then got in the car and drove away as she slowly walked back into the dorm. (We then drove away out of site, then pulled over because Steve had to Google map our way through Seattle while I wiped my eyes so I could drive).
Hard as it was, it was worth it.
Hard as it was, with the sleepless nights, the fights, the teenage hormones, the two year old tantrums, the sibling rivalry, the tickle fests, the tea parties, the endless stories, the time, the energy, the money, the messy bedroom, the gross bathroom messes, the slumber parties with loud friends, the silliness, the intensity of the first born, the plays, the driving lessons, the fender benders, the water bill from long showers, the drama of it all… it was worth it. It’s hard to let go, but it’s worth the dream.
My prayer tonight.
Let her dreams be as BIG as God is real. Amen!
(This was not edited tonight so forgive my typos)
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I’m the oldest of three girls. When my family dropped me off at school for the first time, we picked a location where we would both have to turn and leave rather than one watching the other walk/drive away. To this day, that’s still known to us as “The Crying Parking Lot.” What we didn’t know at the time as that six years later, that’d be the parking lot where I parked every day for work.