To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you’ve done your job. They are not ours to keep, but to teach them to soar on their own.
It’s a saying I first heard last year at Brad’s wedding. His wife’s father spoke those words to everyone at the reception pointing out that while he was sad to see his daughter go, he was happy for her because she was not his to keep.
Those words stuck with me, and they’ve been ringing in my head over the past few weeks as our third child prepared to head north to start her new job. While I’d love to keep her with us at home (along with her older sister and brother), it’s not the right thing to do. We spend years working with our kids so they can venture out of the nest to live on their own. While it’s hard to let them go, when they leave it means we’ve done our job.
Watching Courtney pack her car and leave brought back memories when I left my parent’s house in Western Pennsylvania nearly 30 years ago. I had just graduated college and was barely 21 years old. The Honda Accord my parents gave me was packed full with my life’s possessions. I was taking everything I had, which wasn’t much, on my drive across the country to my new home in Southern California.
I had anticipated leaving home for years. It wasn’t a desire to get away from anything. My parents provided me with everything I could have ever wanted, and then some. It was more of a desire to explore, start my own life, and experience my own adventures. While I was eager to go, it wasn’t easy. I have vivid memories of packing up the car and saying good-bye. Tears were shed, and there wasn’t a dry eye among the three of us. It was a solid hour or more on the road until it started to sink in. I had left home. I was on my own. And while I didn’t plan to make Southern California my permanent home, here I am, 30 years later.
Seeing Courtney go was tough, but not quite the same as when I left home. It helps that she’s the third to go, so I kind of knew what to expect. It also helps that she’s not moving to the other side of the country. She’s may not be within drop-in driving distance, but she’s close enough that I figure we’ll get to see her on a somewhat regular basis.
And just like that, Courtney is off to new adventures. She’s closing the book on this chapter of her life. And when one chapter ends, another begins. She’s officially an adult. It’s her time to explore the world, her time to shine. She gets to choose her path and leave her imprint on the world. I’m sure there will be ups, and there will be downs, because, well, that’s life. No matter the case, I wish her all the best and look forward to seeing where her adventures take her.