I have a fourteen year old daughter. She is loving, beautiful, witty, creative and brave. And, boy, does she hate me.
She doesn’t hate me. But, boy, it feels real.
Many changes have happened in her life over the past few years. Changes over which she had no control and little to go on except the sometimes tenuous belief that her mother has her best interests at heart. On numerous occasions, however, the stress of our circumstances have stretched her ability to believe this beyond reasonable limit.
At me, she snaps; she flails; she lashes out; she tears; she attacks; she wounds; she hates.
But I know she also weeps, and feels, and hurts, and questions, and fears.
She is like an elegant young falcon the Lord has put on my wrist. He has entrusted her – specifically – to my care until she is strong enough, old enough and wise enough, to fly away and thrive on her own.
She is attached to my wrist by a thin strip of leather around her leg. So she can fly a little — but must return. Sometimes I let the leather out further and glory to see her spread those growing wings. But then it limits the freedom she begins to discover, and she’s furious. I draw her back to me and she stabs with her beak at the soft tissue of my forearm or lunges at my face.
However, the leather strip is attached at the other end to a glove given to me by the Head Falconer. I wear the glove on my left hand for protection – both for her and for me. The glove is Faith and it shields us both. It shows me that it’s not just me and her in this to and fro of maturing. She can flail and nip, but I’m equipped to protect us both from real injury.
And every time she wants to fly away but can’t, or wants to stay on my wrist but I make her airborne, she battles me. Yet with every battle, the muscles employed to flail and rail and flap are the same ones she will need even more so later on, when I’m not there. And these crucial muscles grow stronger and more developed each time (as do mine to steady her.)
Sometimes I put blinders on her eyes to protect her from things that would frighten her or are beyond her need to know. She doesn’t know I’ve put the blinders on because I’ve protected her. She rests quietly on my wrist and I stroke her feathers and reassure her. Such gentle moments are sweet relief.
In her and my struggle, I should remember this: That I only get to keep her attached to me — firmly, wisely, kindly — until such time that the Head Falconer reveals she has grown ready to soar beyond my restraints.
In the meantime, I must see this back and forth for what it is: a majestic and terrible privilege to nurture and train and comfort this exquisite creature to fly higher and farther than I could even imagine.
I love her so.