“Mommy, I don’t think that I can go to horse camp.”
“What do you mean, sweet girl? You love horses, and I know you will have a blast,” I quickly assured her as we settled in for our bedtime routine of snuggling and reading together.
Her voice cracked and tears spilled out of her eyes as she choked out the words, “but if I go to horse camp every day that means we will only have six hours a day together!”
Those words. Those precious words.
In that moment, my heart melted as I thought about how much my eight-year old daughter was growing up so fast before my very eyes, yet even with how big she was getting- she still needed me. I held her close and assured her that she would be fine without me, but the tears continued…out of both of our eyes.
One thing that I am learning is that this whole letting-go thing is not easy. I’m quite certain that I have left pieces of my heart in the church nursery, at the preschool, in her kindergarten class, and now even at horse camp. And I find myself fighting through the mixed emotions of wishing that I could keep her little forever but yet wanting to help her to mature and grow.
As parents we have such an awesome responsibility. The Bible challenges us to train up our children in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6), and what I am learning is that part of training them is to help them transition from parent-reliance to God-reliance. As much as I want to be her everything, that is only a place that God can and should fill.
Suddenly, this became more than just about horse camp, but rather, an opportunity for both of us to grow.
Interestingly enough, the very next day after our emotional bedtime conversation, my daughter came to me and said, “Mommy, I’ve thought about it- horse camp is only a week long, and we have all summer to be together. Go ahead and sign me up.”
I watched her excitedly skip away, and I had to shake my head and laugh because I was still back at our emotional bedtime ordeal… while she had clearly moved on.
However, my heart was so happy and thankful that she didn’t get stuck in needing me to miss out on a week of having so much fun! I’m sure we will have many more of these crossroads to face together, but today I will hug her and tell her,
“Go ride that horse, my love! And have the time of your life at horse camp! And when you are done, I will be there to hear all about it and to savor our six hours together.”