In education we talk about a spiral curriculum. Basically, the idea is that each year you continue to build and expand on previous learning. This idea really hit home for me this week as we dropped off our daughter for her first year of college. I feel like I have been learning lessons over and over, each one getting a little deeper to prepare me for this very moment. My feelings were not what I expected. I expected tears...from all of us. Instead I was filled with more of a sense of wonder and awe as I watched my daughter settle in to her new surroundings and push away from our protective arms. I felt myself let go. I think the spiral curriculum of life prepared me. Just a few years ago, I would not have been ready to let go. But over the last four years, my animals have taught me valuable lessons about trust and letting go. There's always a bit of worry, but over time the animals have shown they can go out into the world and take care of themselves.
And so far, they always return.
Dropping off my daughter and letting her go is just one more of these lessons. While I would like to keep her protected and safe under my roof, I know no creature likes to be held back or confined. Is it scary? You bet. Do I worry that she will be attacked by "wolves" or that she won't find her way back home? Of course. But I also trust her instincts. I trust her ability to make good decisions. I trust the world to teach her lessons and help her grow in new ways. Cats, chickens, horses and dogs find their way home. She will too.
I let go.
And like I have done with each of my animals, I watch, I wait and I learn. The animals have taught me to let the world be the teacher and to trust in natural instincts. My first lesson in this was with chickens. One of my first blogs, Chicken Out, captured this idea. My chickens taught me what it looks like to be courageous and step out into the world. Now it's my daughter's turn to poke her head out into the world and chicken out. I'm excited to see what lessons the world has in store for her and what I learn from this experience too. I can't wait to see how she grows her wings and develops into the person she was meant to be. With as much force as she pushes away, I know one day she will also return. She knows where she is loved and fed and where she can go to feel safe. She knows her way home. And you better believe I'll be there to call her in and keep her safe should an unexpected storm or danger come her way.