Leah (in the yellow life jacket) going on a canoe adventure at VBS last week
Nemo (hugging his dad): I love you, Dad.
Marlin: I love you too, son.
Nemo (after being embraced a little too long): Uh, dad, you can let go now.
Marlin: Sorry! Now go have an adventure....
I am so glad God designed the process of life the way he did. Because if we had to let go of our children right off the bat, no one would sign up for such emotional torture. But instead, babies are born needy and helpless. And parents are there to hold and feed and take care of all their needs. Slowly, though, the letting go process begins. Perhaps it starts off with Grandma watching the baby for a few hours while Mom and Dad go out on a much needed date. Then maybe a babysitter watches the baby all day while Mom goes off to work. As the baby turns into a toddler, he may have an occasional sleepover at his grandparents' house. Or maybe even a multiple night stay if Mom and Dad are going on a vacation. The process of letting go is done in small, manageable increments.
Later, as I am finding out, the letting go process gets harder. Because instead of releasing your sweet baby into the loving and familiar arms of grandparents or other family members, you instead release them into the arms of a teacher, or daycare worker, or Sunday School teacher, or dance instructor. That's when your heart seems to want to burst open and your eyes well up with tears. In those moments you want to run back into the classroom and say, "Uh...we'll just try kindergarten next year when she's six. Or eight. Or never." But then you take a deep breath, say a prayer for God to watch over her, and move on. In all of my experiences like these, I have come back to happy children who are bursting at the seams to tell me all about their day. Their adventure.
All of these experiences are just practice for when your baby is one day a grown young man or woman. I can't imagine how much my heart will want to explode when I have to leave one of my kids at college. But I hope I can look them in the eye and truly say, with confidence, "Hannah, Leah, Lucas.....it's time to go have an adventure."
Thankfully, we still have lots more years to practice.