Today’s mail brings an envelope from the high school, crammed with reminders about my son’s upcoming graduation. I sort through it, jotting notes on the calendar and circling details to remember, then tossing much of it into the recycling bin.
It’s an ordinary, straightforward task, but I find myself fighting back tears. I’m at once filled with pride in the person my son has become, while at the same time flattened by a sense of loss. He and I are nearing the end of a chapter in each other’s lives. Soon he will begin to accumulate an entirely new network of friends and experiences—ones that have nothing to do with his father, his siblings, or me.
When our children are young, we can fool ourselves into believing that we have control over their lives. We orchestrate them—handing out vitamins, prompting “please” and “thank you,” monitoring their grades, and listening to daily reports about the minutiae of their lives.
But there comes a moment—at the edge of adulthood, if it hasn’t happened before—when we must relinquish the notion that we’re in control. The truth is, our white-knuckled parenting wasn’t ultimately what kept them safe or made them into the young people they are. Their lives have been in God’s hands all along. And they still are.
With this new clarity, I turn to prayer, offering my best hopes and deepest fears to a loving God. I ask that God finish the work that was started in my child, work celebrated at Baptism, at Confirmation, and each time we received the Eucharist together. I utter a prayer as simple as a child’s: “God, please keep him safe. Make your face shine upon him. Give him peace.”