When Your Daughter Comes Home
I was never able to travel when I was a child, so when each of my children reached ten years of age I took them to London, England, for a week. I wanted them to discover the world.
On their last day in London, I told them they could go anywhere they wanted to go in the city but they would need to take me there and bring me back. I wanted them to gain confidence in their ability to explore.
Each one took me out into the city and brought me back to the hotel. They were the adult for the day and it was a glorious adventure.
I had hoped that they would remember the achievement and then, some day, they would have the confidence to travel on their own.
My youngest child, my son, plans to travel to Germany next year for study abroad. One daughter has traveled to Italy and to South Africa. My oldest daughter traveled all around Western Europe while she studied abroad.
Most importantly, she met a Peruvian in Germany and then she moved to Peru soon after she graduated from college. She has lived there for two years, three months, and three weeks.
Today she moves back home.
The young man she met in Germany has become the center of her life and I couldn’t be happier for her. He is simply a fine young man who has a bright future and my daughter appears to be in it.
Did I mention she is coming home today?
Loving as a parent can be excruciatingly bittersweet. We remember when our children fit in the crook of our arms, when they toddled out into the yard to play, when they peddled down the sidewalk without training wheels, and when they pulled out of the driveway by themselves for the first time.
From the moment we hold them the first time we know our most important job is to prepare them to be let go.
We teach them how to take care of themselves and how to make good decisions. We correct them and coach them. We hold them when they fail and cheer them when they succeed. We teach them to be grownups.
We raise them to leave.
It is the leaving that makes the coming home so wonderful.
When I traveled to Peru two weeks ago to meet her boyfriend’s family I discovered my daughter had grown into a young woman able to live on her own in a foreign country. My head knew it but when my eyes saw it, my heart believed it.
She left a college graduate but returns a young woman prepared to support herself and to begin graduate school. She has come so far from that little person who stepped out of the hotel room in front of me in London to lead me around the city for the day.
Today she comes back home.
Her living in Peru the last two years means she will come back changed and more grown up. Her mother and I have been working for this all her life. She will be leaving again, soon, for somewhere. We raised her for that leaving.
For now, we celebrate her coming home. We will hold her close and listen to the stories of her life. Our hearts will be full of joy.
Our daughter comes home today.