One day they’re born.
And you feel like you have forever. Their little body fits into your lap, their hand tucked in yours, their head nestles into your shoulder. So small, so simple, so sweet. The years seem so many, the moments endless. Eighteen years feels forever.
Yet, they grow.
Time moves and ebbs and flows and things change and in it all even though time at moments seems to stand still – there it goes – moving.
They start out needing us so much. Feeding them and clothing them. Picking them up and helping with homework and dropping them off and teaching them to tie shoes or parallel park or how to multiply.
Sometimes the change is subtle and sometimes it’s crazy. A shift here, some bravery there, and in it all they don’t stay small.
We go to sleep listening for them. For a cough, the door to open, for that whisper of “mom are you awake?” when we clearly weren’t.
They stop needing to hold your hand across the street and find friends and do daring things and read and grow up. The clothes are donated, the play food let go, the training wheels discarded, the new freedoms of growing up gained.
And the grow and grow and grow. The limits morph and you stay up late again, not pacing the floor helping them get to sleep, but pacing the floor waiting for them to come home.
Your heart has grown big and ached and been broken and been proud and has this love that was once unimaginable.
And then one day, they close the door and it is the last time. The last time home with you in it is, well, home. Tears fall – joy and sadness and celebration and “where in the world did time go?”
That little one who fit in your arms so tightly now is walking out, walking away, growing up.
On their own.
Oh don’t get me wrong – It will always be home. You are home for them. But it’s not the same. Maybe we don’t talk about that space – that growing up, letting go space – when our homes, instead of becoming noisier, become the opposite.
In life there is that moment, that gut-wrenching place of motherhood that is both bittersweet and joyful when that little one you raised leaves.
It is a fierce bravery to let them go. It’s where we tuck back the tears and shout, “Way to go! You can do it!” But inside, sometimes we are whispering to ourselves the same thing.
You can do it.
You can love and give and in it all let them go.
We all want it. We want them to be successful, to have a voice, to find love, to pursue their dreams. Childhood is this place of pushing them to be more and speak up and live.
Letting go is the deepest love of all.
We don’t cling so tightly because we want them to fly.
And in that flying, that letting go, we become the hero. We look back and see all the bandages placed and late nights and slammed doors and giving and loving and the courage it took to say, “fly, sweet child, fly.”
The mom always learning to let go.
Holding her once little one in her arms.