“Goodbye, Mom. I can do it on my own.” Those were the words spoken to me by my newly-minted kindergartener at her school’s open house.

I don’t even remember the context, because upon hearing them, my throat choked shut and my eyes blinded with tears as I smiled at my girl and let her go on ahead.

I couldn’t help the immediate physical response to those words — even the pep talk I gave myself as I walked through the school doors about NOT CRYING did nothing to stop my emotional response from welling up and over my self-control.

As we drove home, I silently scolded myself for, once again, being such a weepy creature over such small things.

And then I realized that I wasn’t silly and that moment wasn’t trivial.

You see, in that moment, I saw my first baby, that tiny bundle that forever changed her father and me, in a different light. Just for a second, I glimpsed her future — and it is full of wonderful things and hard things and BIG things that I can’t even imagine, standing on the cusp of kindergarten.

And I’m not talking about success as the world defines success — I glimpsed lives touched because of her kindness, her bravery, her ability to talk to anyone about anything. I’m talking about the unique stamp she will make on this world.

I realized that her father and I stand on the edge of the first of many firsts — that we are slowly but surely launching her into independence, into her own life, into her own journey — and that in a blink we’ll be waving and holding back tears as she drives away in a car loaded down with stuff, on her way to a new adventure.

And isn’t this the plight of every parent? That the very things we want most for our children, the things we spend our time and energy developing within them, makes us weep periodically along the way because, in the end, we prepare them to leave us behind.

Lord, give us strength as we launch our children into new schools, into new school years, into new jobs and marriages and lives. Give us grace as we simultaneously rejoice over their growing independence while mourning the loss of our “babies” Give us wisdom as we walk with our children, no matter the ages, through hard times, tears, tragedy, and scary things. Give us courage to stand firm, to stand tough, to stand strong against a culture that thrives on being too thin, too sexy, too much of so many things that hurt and scar and wound. And Lord, wipe our secret tears as we struggle to slowly let them go. Amen.