A Letter to Robyn When She was 13

I found this second memory when I was going through Robyn’s things after she flew away. I wrote her this letter on July 20, 1998, when she was just entering her teenage years. Twenty-four years later, it is still as true as the day I wrote it to her.

My dearest baby Robyn,

It seems no tie has passed since I walked into the Kelowna Hospital nursery and saw all those women admiring that “Indian baby” — and I was soooo proud to push through and pick you up and announce you were mine!

We had so many possible names picked out, but right away I knew you were my little Robyn, my precious little songbird bringing the music of life into our lives. How like a robin you were, right from the beginning — strong; bright and early; seeking attention, then flitting away which others come too close; facing the stormy winters of life bravely when others fly away to an easier place; bringing a bright flash of colour into our lives, as the robin’s red breast brightens the dull winter landscape; always busy, always searching, always being the “early bird who gets the worm.”

How I loved you as I proudly held you at your birth, gazing at your tiny face, listening with amazement to your vigorous howls, an instant predictor of the strength and determination you carried within. And you would cuddle up to me, seeking warmth and security — then abruptly pull away, asserting your individuality and independence. And so you have always been — two sides, one longing for childhood security, peacefulness, the safety of the next and the mother robin’s wings tucked around you; the other side demanding to escape the nest, to be noticed, to spread your wings, to fly bravely and fearlessly. Always that tension. And through it all, the beautiful music of your life has wrapped around me, and I gaze still today upon you in awe and wonder, as well as a sense of helplessness, as I did on that wonderful day of your birth.

I gaze with pride at your accomplishments — your ability in sports, in music, in writing, in education.

I am filled with delight when I see the things you do to please me — the beautiful clean house, the heady scent of freshly mowed grass, the sparkle of clean dishes, the neatness of folded laundry.

My heart sings within me as I listen to you play the piano — and sometimes the music can’t help but burst out of my lips as I sing joyfully along!

And sometimes, too, my heart constricts. It constricts with sorrow as I see you struggle with the unkindness of people, with the unfairness that life throws your way.

It constricts with love and concern, as I watch you try to sort through the meaning of life, as I watch you struggle — as I do, too — with the concept of a loving God in a messed up world.

How I long to reach out and pull you into my arms when I see you confused, when I see you angry, when I see you hurting — like the mother robin, I long to draw my little robin into the safety of the nest, nestle you into the soft down lining its depths, spread my wings securely over you, protecting you from the storms of life, from the hungry predators, from the bumps and bruises and tumbles that inevitably buffet you as you spread your wings and learn to fly; even to shield you from the cries of the other nestlings as they compete for my attention, which they also need. Often, when they succeed, I see you there, tottering on the edge, eyes wide with a mingling of fear and pain of rejection–and I stretch out my wing to pull you into the safety of my breast, tight against my heart — and yet so often when that happens, you beat your little wings and fly precariously out of the nest, hovering just beyond the reach of my wings, and I am caught in a dilemma; do I fly from the nest and catch you? And if I do, will you rsent me treating you like a baby, or will you gladly return? Or do I stay on the nest, continuing to protect all my little nestlings, and simply stretch out my wing and hope you will come willingly into my embrace?

I see your inner strength, your independence, fueled by your hurt and anger, pulling you away; yet I also see your loving nature, your need for security and mother-love, pulling you back. I watch the tension play itself out; I watch anxiously, praying that you will find within yourself a balance, an “eye of calm in the storm” between the two sides of your nature. I pray to the Lord that He will show Himself to you; that you will come to find that only in Him, in your Creator, He who loves you more than words can tell, who loves you with a great and perfect and everlasting love; only in Him will you truly find that place of rest, that place of security that never fails, yet always allows you to test your wings, to sail forth along the paths of the winds, to bless the world with your life.

Oh how I love you, my precious little Robyn. Oh how I want to protect you and hold you and save you from the pain of life. Yet all I can do is be there for you. Please know that I am here to encourage you, to hold your hand and steady you, to hug you close, to dry your tears, to cheer you on — if only you’ll let me.

But know also, that as great as my love for you is — and it is so strong I feel like I might burst — I, too, am weak and small, and just testing my own wings. I, too, am human, and am always, always, just a child, growing, learning, but also tiring, making mistakes, needing security and love and forgivenss. So come to me, my precious baby — but when I fail you, as I so often do, though it breaks my heart, then turn always to your loving Heavenly Father, who will never leave you, never forsake you, never fail you. Just hold His hand. I love you!

Your mama robin