Hand in Hand
By Jane Thornton –
One hot August Monday morning I walked hand in hand with five-year-old Matthew up the wide concrete steps to Plummer Elementary. My heart was in turmoil; his probably was too.We’d prepared for this day, this separation. We had dropped by the week before to meet his Kindergarten teacher—very friendly, inviting, and energetic. Matt had attended preschool two days a week for three years. Several times he spent the weekend or even longer with my parents out of town.
Kindergarten lasted only three hours. No sweat. But school met every day, and more importantly, this day represented a milestone, his first major step in growing up. So my heart pounded faster when I let go of his sweaty hand and watched him step tentatively into a room full of kids he didn’t know.
A few months later, he was firmly entrenched in Kindergarten drama, regaling me in the car with his attempts to impress Brady and his envy of Christine, who won a pizza coupon because she had no trouble behaving.
Three years passed, and five-year-old Meredith wanted to be dropped off in the driveway with just a kiss and a wave. No walk to the classroom door. No younger sibling to go home and take care of. Little Miss Independent. Quite different from (and preferable to) the child who literally clung to the car door frame, body parallel with the ground while his father pulled on his legs in an attempt to force him to school.
Time zoomed forward, full of homework, Little League, PTA and Sunday School. Years of school, church and family events passed with cycles of laughter, boredom and tears.
Three years ago, as we drove to Lubbock to deliver Matt to Texas Tech, we discussed my return to full-time work. He asked, “Why are you going back to work, Mom?” Let me reiterate as I did for him—as we drove to Lubbock to deliver Matt to Texas Tech.
Meredith and I walked hand in hand around the campus of Abilene Christian this week. In forty-five days (I haven’t been counting until now), I’ll let go of her hand, haul a truckload of stuff that can’t possibly fit, cram it into a compact dorm room, smile and wave as we pass the final sure milestone on her trip to adulthood.
How do we do it? How do we first let go of those little fingers swallowed by ours, then let go of the maturing hand of our adult children?
We place them in the hand of our Father—with confidence that He loves them even more than we do although that possibility is hard to conceive. With assurances from Him that He has things planned for them that we are unable to imagine, we can let that grip slide.
And when we need strength to face the realities of our failures or the loneliness of an empty nest, we place our own hand in His too.
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13).