I dropped my daughter off on the first day of school, a new school in a new town.
And, not surprisingly, she ran through the doors, fully prepared to get the party started. Because in her mind, there isn’t much more in life that calls for party hats and noisemakers than the return to school after a long break. Especially in a new place with lots to explore.
She loves it. Everything about the classroom brings her to life and causes the best version of herself to surface.
When we stepped into the classroom I helped her get settled, which was more for my benefit than hers, because she didn’t actually need any help settling in. She entered the classroom like she owned it, unafraid and completely relaxed. But for those first few minutes, I wanted to be needed. Needed to be needed.
After I gave her a hug and a kiss, I told her I was going to miss her.
She smiled, gave me another hug and said “I’m so excited that I might forget to miss you.”
Her honesty stung for a bit with the realization that she would rather be at school than at home. In that moment, I felt unwanted and wondered if it was because I’m a bad mom.
I went on with my day and thought of her as the hours passed, considering the things she might be doing at different points throughout the day.
And as I imagined it all, I realized that her words were not a reflection of her lack of love for me, but rather a reflection of her love for so many other things. They weren’t a reflection of who I am, but rather who she is.
She loves school. Learning. And people.
She is confident and enthusiastic.
She is extroverted and independent.
She is fearless and intelligent.
She is adventurous and curious.
She is the person God made her to be.
Sure, it would feel nice to be missed, but I’m grateful that I wasn’t. I’m grateful that she felt safe and secure. I’m grateful that she loves school and the people there. I’m grateful that opportunities to use her God-given gifts fill her with joy, and I am grateful that her joy shines forth in doing so.
She was excited to do the things she loves, the things she was meant for. And it didn’t mean that she loves me less, it just meant she was happy, that being a gift in itself.
She ran towards her purpose, her passions, not wanting to miss out. But at the end of the day, she came running back to me, straight into my arms, with a day’s worth of news spilling out of her mouth.
As she filled me in on the excitement of her day, I considered how it is my job to encourage her to run towards the things she was made for. The things she was made to do. And if I don’t she’s going to miss so much more than just me. She’s going to miss her gifts. Her passions. Herself. And I’ll miss it too. The real her. The girl she was meant to be.
So, on the first day of school she ran away without missing me. And my hope is, that if I encourage her to run away, she’ll keep running back, just like she did when the first day of school came to an end. And that somehow, in the coming back, neither of us will have missed a thing.