Last Thursday, our daughter Tori graduated from high school and we have been celebrating!
For the weeks and days leading up to to her graduation, my husband and I gathered with friends and family to attend last performances and banquets honoring senior students.
Parents of close friends to our daughter joined us for ‘last times’ in auditoriums and banquet halls and together we celebrated our kids one more time before their senior year came to an end.
Since then, I have reflected on the years we have shared our kids with one another. Many faces came to mind as I sat in the memories of raising our daughter. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for family, friends and teachers who have walked with Tori (and me) through some of the most precious and tender times of her life. I am amazed the time has arrived and she and her friends have graduated from high school.
I remember the day she was born. The yells outside my hospital room door affirmed our unexpected surprise… “It’s a girl!” The ripple of excitement continued to travel through phone lines into our family and community. “It’s a girl!” The faces of friends and family who had placed wagers that our baby would be a “boy” lost their bets instantly as the shock wave of truth changed their minds. All in fun, yes, but there was a high percentage of people who expected us to deliver our fourth son.
But God had a different plan for our family. Instead of four boys, we would raise three boys and our sweet daughter.
I remember the look Victor and I traded that day when we welcomed our daughter into our arms. It is a look we have shared over the years when something out of the ordinary happens. We have shared ‘the look’ between us many times since our children were born, through thick, thin, joys and struggles. It is ‘the look’ that speaks without words, a look that says, “YES!… this is happening.”
I remember the women who rallied around me as I returned home with our new bundle of pink.
What an adventure it has been to mother our family! There have been many occasions when I have looked to the Heaven’s and stated, “You must have been mistaken – I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes to do this!”
Like the morning a ministry worker from our new church sat on our sofa looking past me while asking a question, “You let your daughter do that?!!!” Unbeknownst to me, Tori had entered the room to share with excitement what she had learned from her three brothers… lizards open their mouths when gently squeezed and make fabulous earrings. There she stood with lizards attached to her sweet little 5 year old earlobes and a smile as big as the world. She loved every minute.
Her heart is full of stories such as this, and so is mine as a mother to all our kids. Stories of goodness and victory and stories of failures and pain that have impacted all of us in different ways over the years. What an adventure our family has shared and what a gift it is to participate in the adventure growing as our last child prepares to depart our home and step into her bigger journey.
She is ready. Just a couple of weeks ago, Victor & I shared ‘the look’ again when Tori rose from her chair on a stage she has shared numerous times with her friends in band. As she stood at the microphone to perform her last solo, I inhaled deeply, holding my tears, my heart and the moment inside my chest. She began playing her song, her shoulders swaying and her clarinet sounding an invitation to everyone in the room to sway along with her. In that moment I knew that our daughter was ready to step into bigger spaces to explore her dreams. I thought of the lizards and the risks she continues to take. She is a young woman of tenderness and courage.
Victor’s tear-full eyes caught mine and we traded the look yet again, “Yes! This is happening.”
We are entering a new season, and though we each have different perspectives and emotions going on about how this new season is unfolding, one thing remains constant. That one thing is faith in Jesus that He is alive and present in what’s ‘happening’. He has and continues to love our children and us perfectly in spite of our imperfect ways!
It has definately been an adventure. But this is the most exciting part…it continues to be. God is growing each of us into His bigger adventure. Our children are departing and returning with more than I could have ever hoped or imagined. Stories, experiences, friends and new family! There are no lizards on ears yet, but…
I’ll keep you posted!