BY SHARON VAN ARNEMAN
Few things are harder than saying goodbye to your college-bound teenager. That gut-wrenching ache that engulfs you, when you wave that last goodbye and realize afresh that this is it, can be understood only by those who’ve been there themselves. This precious being, whom you have just spent the last 17 or 18 years raising, is going off to experience a new life in a new land, and – whether you feel ready to let your “baby” go or not – you must cut the apron strings. Yes, there is a part of you that is happy and beaming with pride for the bright possibilities that lie ahead, but there is also this other part that is hurting so much, you can hardly bear the pain.
You grapple with the reality that this child you call your “baby” is becoming her own person; this journey to adulthood can’t be put into reverse – and this frightens the wits out of you. All of a sudden, you’re afraid of so many things! You’re afraid that you haven’t done enough to prepare her for the world out there; that you may not have given her the tools she needs to navigate life on her own; that your diminishing control over her life in general may lead her to make some poor choices. You go to bed wondering if she’ll abandon her faith or if this time away from home and family will cause her to realize the preciousness of the heritage you passed on to her.
Your mother-heart aches for her to understand that no distance or ocean can quench this fierce love you have for her. On the one hand, you know she will make mistakes; you know she will do some dumb things; you know there’ll be regrets. But on the other hand, you pray she won’t make those kinds of destructive decisions that’ll ruin her future – wrong choices that carry consequences so dire that she’d spend the rest of her life marked by them! And so, every chance you get to send a text or an email, or to connect on WhatsApp or Viber or Instagram or Messenger, you toss her a little reminder here and there.
You try your best not to get too preachy or overbearing, but you just can’t help remind her to watch her priorities; keep God first in her life; never be too busy to pray and read the Bible; take time out to go to church; honour the values she was raised with; stand for right even when it is not popular; etcetera; etcetera; etcetera. Then in the middle of one of your talks, your mind wonders: “Is she even listening to what I am saying? For all I know, she may just be hearing: ‘Blah… Blah… Blah… Blah…’”
But if anything, rather than letting this daunting thought discourage you, you remind yourself that while you may be away from your teenager, God isn’t! So instead of worrying about whether your pep talks are effective, you calmly rest in the assurance that your prayers are!
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