As a general rule, I don’t do change well. I tend to settle in deeply; carefully create predictable rhythms; find my pace; and- ironically- feel a comforting semblance of control.
Control, of course, is an illusion.
Because no sooner have I “mastered” a brief season, but a sharp turn appears out of nowhere + a daunting new horizon stretches out before me.
New + exciting? To some, perhaps.
I’ve turned such a corner.
Not by surprise, but yet I feel ridiculously unprepared. Like someone found me half-dressed, when I thought I had more time.
How does one prepare to let go of a child? To release a brand new adult into this very big, scary, unpredictable world?
I don’t know. But I am doing it, one faulty step at a time. One shaky breath at a time. One sleepless night at a time.
(Lord, I’m tired.)
Right now, the world looking on will see a newly enlisted solider. Beautiful, green-eyed confidence, clothed in a newly issued uniform.
I see a dark haired child who, not three minutes ago, was my first-born daughter. My forever strong + fierce, but always-casting-large-eyes-at-me-for-assurance daughter.
As this child forged her way into life, she forced me to grow, think, + relearn at an exhausting pace. An eighteen-year crash course for me. And now a ten-week boot camp for her.
That’s where we’re at.
And I had no idea this is what the culmination of raising my girl would feel like – a raw love, a fierce pride, a tender spot that might not ever heal.
Because she’s carrying around pieces of my heart every long-mile-away that she goes.
Honestly, I don’t want her to need me like she did at three.
I just wish she was three again.
But three is in the rearview mirror now.
And, Lord, I keep looking back – so hard that I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes on the path forward.
I have four still on the path with me – still raising these young ones, only to release them when some sharp corner knocks me off my balance again.
Do I have to keep reliving this, every few years, until my house is empty?
Right now, I can only live today. And, right now, my house still feels full.
So why does my heart feel so very empty?
Change has never come easily for me. But it does come. Ready or not, it comes. Prepared or not.
I feel a lot of “not” right now.
Since I’m not really sure how to master the next stretch of this journey, I’m just putting one foot in front of the other. Intuitively, I know that will always take me where I need to be.
And, Lord, I’m looking at these young ones with new eyes right now. Honestly, they’ve never looked so precious, so dear.
Not even when they were three.
Slowly, I feel my gaze shift from the rearview mirror. My tired eyes, my tear-heavy eyes, lock on the path ahead.
New energy. New focus.
One step, one step, one step.
That’s the way forward.
Yes, it’s uncharted. It’s very unknown.
But it’s comforting, moving forward. Comforting, knowing that my girl and I will walk shoulder-to-shoulder. Miles apart, but forward. Together.
As women. As friends.
That’s the next step.
The step that makes all the past steps worth it.
More than worth it.
The part that makes the forward path even better than what I see in the rearview mirror.
prose + photography by Kristy Lynn Howard | August 2022 | for Amy, my first-born