We Were Only in the Way

The weekend our daughter moved to college was truly an exciting, busy weekend.  Saturday evening began with a chapel service of praise to the Lord. It was the only time I shed tears the whole weekend.  I cried giving thanks to God that this was the environment where my daughter, Lord willing, will spend her next four years.  

Over the course of the weekend there were many meetings, some with our daughter and some just for parents.  And Sunday after lunch we had one more parent meeting on the agenda. We’d gone back to our daughter’s dorm room to wait for the meeting and I suggested it would be a good time for her to strap on her long-leg braces and knock out her thirty minutes of walking for the day.  That thirty minutes out of the wheelchair with her long leg braces and walker is imperative.

In all honesty, our daughter hasn’t always made the best decisions for her physical paralysis health the last six months, so surprising no one, she balked a little, but she could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  In just a few short hours, mom would be gone and would no longer insistent about getting out of the wheelchair!

I asked her if she wanted me to walk with her and she said, “Yes.”  So after the ten minute preparation process, we set out into the dorm hallway.  We got in two laps, and on the second lap, my daughter stopped to talk to some of her dormmates.  I backed up a bit, because seriously, what freshman in college wants her mom to be a part of her getting-to-know-you-at-college conversation?  

I returned to Alissa’s room where my husband was resting his eyes.  He and I listened as the group of young ladies grew louder with laughter and chatter.  Pretty soon we heard the sound he and I can identify in less than a second; the unmistakable clang of the braces as Alissa started walking another lap, this time with some newfound friends.  

Our daughter was gifted with her mother’s speaking volume (you’re welcome, Alissa!), so my husband and I heard her above all the others.  We smiled a few times and laughed out loud at one point. It was then I looked at my husband and said, “We are only in the way!”

He nodded in agreement.  We decided to skip the last parent meeting.  As Chad said, “Seriously, between the scholarship competition last winter and every meeting we’ve attended this weekend, what more do we possibly need to know?”

Alissa returned to her room thirty minutes later with a new friend.  I asked the friend to please excuse us, as Alissa’s dad and I were getting ready to leave and we wanted to have a final prayer with Alissa before we scooted out the door.

Surprising no one, our daughter was not worried about us leaving earlier than we’d planned.  We prayed. We hugged. We took some final photos. And we left. You see, if we’d stayed any longer, we’d have only been in the way.  

I read a recent article about the typical American mother and her ability to hover, hence the name, “Helicopter Mom.”  It’s all around us. There are a few moms I’ve met in my lifetime who make me so nervous and uptight I need a Pepsi when I’m done talking to them!  They want their children to stay at home. As long as possible. They are worried about their kids’ GPAs, and honor classes, and extracurricular activities, and volunteer hours, and so much else, and it makes my head spin.  They worry if their child doesn’t text them at lunch during the school day. Inevitably they are worried about their child driving. I can’t tell you how many times a mother has said to me, “I don’t want them driving. There’s just so many bad things that can happen to them on the road!”

And in irony of ironies, I simply try to respond in an even tone, “Yes. Yes, there are.”

At this point in my parenting journey, I seriously have to work at not getting in the way of my children’s lives.   I can’t control every quiz or test or paper. I can’t control teachers or professors. I can’t control every race or game or practice.  I can’t control other drivers. I can’t control every word or action or thought from my sixteen and eighteen year old. And yes, they fail at times.  And yes, I fail at times. Probably more than they do! But even through some intense curve balls, I’m seriously trying to stick with my mantra from the time they were born:  “Provide them with deep, deep roots to ground them in God’s goodness and provide them with wings.” How else will they fly? And isn’t that my job? To make certain they can fly without me?

And when it comes to their wings, I realize as their mother, sometimes, I am only in their way.

Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.

Amy Alissa Dorm