I was fishing at the dock today. It was a calm evening and the water looked slick and seamless. Since I was not too busy reeling in my intended prey, the giant catfish we call “Moby Cat”, I had plenty of time to take in the picturesque surroundings. That is when I first noticed them. They were a motley crew, six young wood ducks gliding past the docks. No doubt, they were on their way to glean an evening snack from among the water plants that populate the shoreline.
These were decidedly juvenile ducklings. They were smallish in size and lacking the vibrant coloring that will come in time. I recalled seeing a male and female wood duck parading a small contingency of fluffy ducklings around these docks this past spring. As the summer continued, we would see them from time to time and marvel at how quickly they seemed to be growing. I wondered if these young ones were from that brood.
My heart ached as I watched them confidently carrying on the business of being a duck, without the familiar sight of their momma duck. Where was momma duck? Was she watching them from nearby? Was she somewhere on a distant riverbank trying to push her worry for them to the back of her mind? ….Will they make good choices? Will they be capable of finding food on their own? Did they pay attention to all the lessons she tried to teach them? Will they be safe? Can they survive out in the world on their own? …. I wondered if she was experiencing empty nest syndrome. Did her feathers puff up with pride when she thought of them? Suddenly I realized how much I felt like that momma duck.
This last weekend we became empty nesters once again. Our daughter, now 21, has begun her junior year at a college in South Carolina. It is not her first semester there, yet it felt like I was leaving her for the first time when we dropped her off on Saturday. Our 23 yr. old son had been living back at home while working and going to school. He moved out this weekend as well. I am thrilled for them both.
Ashley has found a good fit at the College of Charleston. She has made good friends and seems challenged but not overwhelmed. Her world is expanding by leaps and bounds. She is happy.
Steven works full time at a hospital and is a full time student. His new apartment is only minutes from his work, but he will need to work another part time job to be able to afford it. It is a good move for him. He is taking on new responsibilities and investing his time wisely. He is excited to be out on his own again and we can already see a difference in him. He is happy.
I am happy too… They are smart, funny, confident, and caring young adults…it is just hard to shake the worry I share with that momma duck.
This is not the first time I have let them go….there was kindergarten, bicycle riding, first grade, first sleepover, first dates, first car, learning to swim, middle school, high school…. too many times to mention, when I knew I could not protect them or hold their hand, times I did not have all the answers and times I was decidedly not in control of their lives….and yet this is a different kind of letting them go.
I know the God who saw us through all those growing up years will continue to hold them in His capable arms. A friend once shared a prayer for her young adult daughter with me….I have echoed it myself many times…
“God, please give them wisdom, but until then give them grace.”
I may not always understand their journey, but it is theirs to walk and they do not go alone.
As I have since the day they were born, I will continue to “carry them to Jesus”