I like relay races. They require teamwork, impeccable timing, and trust. The first racer carries the baton for a distance and then hands it off to the next racer who carries it a ways further. This continues until, at some point, the race is finished.
It's a little like parenting. The parent carries the responsibility for the beginning part of a child's life and then there's a handing-off period, usually during the teen years, when the weight of that baton of responsibility is gradually eased into the hands of your child until finally, he/she runs off with it alone.
I'm watching it happen now with Andie. She's months away from eighteen and reminds of this often. But she doesn't really have to. I see it. I feel it. It's kind of bittersweet. I inhale relief and exhale anxiety. Grateful for the young woman she's becoming, yet worrying that she's still not ready for adulthood.
A few weeks ago our church had its annual VBS program focused on the life of Daniel and his friends while they were in Babylon. Andie and I worked on decorations. We, mostly she, built the Ishtar Gate in the multipurpose room. As I held the legs of the ladder and watched, Andie scaled that ladder, made measurements, calculated, adjusted, recalculated, and finally executed -- with very little advice from me. From my vantage point on the ground, I couldn't help remembering a time, not very long ago it seems, when I was the one perched atop a ladder while Andie held the legs and prattled happily, "I heppin', Mama! I heppin'."
And I realize that it won't be long before Andie and I are no longer running side-by-side carrying the baton together. She will take it and run with it and I will gaze proudly after her retreating figure and smile and whisper, "God, run with her for me now!"