What can be said about a trip that allows you to revisit places you have been and see them with a fresh perspective. When I last laid eyes on New York City it was dirty, slightly seedy and in some places down right dangerous. All of this gave me a good measure of apprehension about my oldest daughter coming here for college and possibly forever. It’s something she has wanted for about a third of her life and the siren song is seductive.

It’s been my experience that raising a child is equal parts heart warming and heart breaking. Eventually, if you do it right, the child stretches his or her wings for one last time and soars out of the nest. And doesn’t look back. For a long time.

The heartwarming part is watching your child/adult help the cutest little old lady navigate the subway that she has only been on twice herself. As if she were a native New Yorker, full of authority and sweetness. The heartbreaking part is knowing it’s just visits from now on out, not actual day to day living.

I first read this piece of poetry by Kahlil Gibran when I was a teenager in high school. I reacquainted myself with it when Danielle was born and again on her first birthday. It still brings me to tears in a good way everytime I read it.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

I told Danielle that seeing the place she wanted to go made it easier for me to let go of her. I also explained that it was as if I’d had the same job for 17 years and one day the boss lady told me I didn’t have to show up anymore. It’s left the queerest vacuum in it’s place.