Part of this parenting adventure involves what our church calls “launching” our children out into the world. It’s true that while the mother hen instincts tell us to shield our chics from the world with a protective wing, if we do so for too long we will smother them. Eventually they have to get out from under our wing and explore.
The hope and prayer is that they have learned enough from watching you in the coop that they know how to handle themselves out in the world. Mama hen just has to pray that a snake isn’t waiting outside the coop, and if there is, God help the snake.
That is how I felt yesterday morning as I walked Harper to the end of our driveway to load her onto Bus #39. Fortunately, I know the bus driver, Miss Terri, and have already had a chat with her about keeping an eye on my chic. She assured me she would have her sit within arms reach next to a girl. Perfect. But when Harper walked onto those bus stairs, not looking back over her shoulder, I had to resist the urge to sprint onto the bus, scope out the kids and tell her exactly where to sit and with whom. Like you can determine those things at a glance. But I stayed back, holding Josie close to my body like a security blanket. She waved at me through the tinted bus window, smiling. Happy. And standing there, in a cloud of thick fumes, I cried like a baby as the school bus pulled away. Of course I waited until she couldn’t see me, until the big kids in the back had turned their glossy-eyed attention to the trees and the leaves or their iphones hidden in the front pocket of their August hoodies. No one noticed the hot tears and breaking heart of this Mama hen.
There was a little more room under my wing that day -more room to focus on the other two chics in my nest. I played pretend bunny family with Baylor after lunch, spread a quilt on the back deck for our lacing boards so we could work on her motor skills, held her tightly in my lap to learn the letters A,B, and C from the computer, all the while thinking about Harper and how quickly 3:05 would get here and just how long would it take for the bus to make it’s route back to my home. At 3:20pm, Baylor, armed with the bunny family in a pink stroller, and I waited together for our big girl to get home from school. We both felt the sting of her absence. Baylor stood, shielding the sun from her big blue eyes, craning her neck this way and that in search of the big yellow bus that would deliver her playmate. I searched for the bus that would bring my girl home from a day out in the world - a day of slaying dragons and killing snakes and making friends and learning. Seeing her face would assure me that she was safe and once again I would be able to take a full breath. Launching our kids is just as much about us letting go as it is them learning to fly.