to the mom holding hands, one last time

I’m not good at last times.

I’m much much better at the firsts even though I know the firsts will lead to lasts.

Today, in a whisper, shh, because I don’t really want it to be and maybe if I whisper it won’t be true – today was one of those last time moments in motherhood. A letting go, a release, an exhale. I tried to inhale, tried to be present, but in the breath I could feel the childhood falling away. You try to cling to it as much as you can, but it’s there – those moments of less toys and not wanting shirts with characters on it and conversations that go seriously, mom? and oh that independence that is so needed but so hard in the same breath to embrace.

This picture my sweet friends. This is a last time picture.

That’s me, blurry on the left, in my yoga pants and sketchers and camo sweater and my precocious, endearing, spitfire of a nine year old, on the right. And note – he is holding my hand. Not because I asked him too. Not because he wasn’t feeling well. Not because I needed him too.

He asked to hold my hand.

Let that just sink in to your momma’s heart just for a moment. There comes that day when holding hands with moms is a not cool thing or they think they are too old or it just fades away. But today, today in the late afternoon as the Nashville sun skirted along the horizon, he didn’t care about what it meant to be getting older, he in that moment was so excited and happy to be with me that he said the sweetest thing.

Hold my hand?

At first I didn’t think anything of it. And then as we wandered in that Walmart parking lot on a quest to find the rest of his Halloween costume that he had searched for online I had this deep gut realization that this probably was a last time. He didn’t know I took it, but as the sun was fading I knew my holding hands part of motherhood was equally fading and I needed just to remember.

I have pictures of so many firsts and lasts. Kindergarten and moving and reading and awards and first big bed and so forth. But the holding hands? My whole world has been a world of holding my children’s hands and here I was at the very end without a picture, a memory, something.

I needed the picture. He is my baby, my youngest, and I was afraid this was it.

In fact, deep down, I believe this was the last.

The last holding hands time.

The last time he asked to hold my hand. The last time he didn’t care that he was old and holding his mom’s hand. The last time. I am so teary, with that raw ache of release, with the moment of realization this was probably it. I can’t even remember the last time before that he held my hand. It had to have been six months ago. I thought that part of mothering was gone and then, there was today, this gift of a moment.

Oh my word. Tears again.

You’d think I could let them go easier than this, after all, my oldest is twenty-two and graduated college. I wish I could tell you it just got easier and easier, but friends every single time, it’s this moment, this breath of realizing – I have to let you go.

But I’m going to cling to these moments. I am.

When you ask to hold my hand when you’re nine – I will say yes.

When you ask to talk to me late at night when you’re a teen – I will say yes.

When you have a bad dream and come in my room needing me – I will say yes.

When you call me just because – I will say yes.

I will be there.

I will be there for the firsts, my children, and I will be there for the lasts.

As we walked in and grabbed a cart he slowly let go of my hand. And then he was back to being nine. It was like a goodbye to childhood. I looked at him, running to the display, and thought to myself – you have done well.

Let them go, sweet moms. They need us to be the ones that encourage them to fly. They need us cheering them on. They need us to not cling so tightly.

Today I let go.

Sam, that costume is fantastic!

Said me, the mom, with tears in her eyes, feeling the warmth of holding hands slowly fading away as the new journey, the new chapter began.

~Rachel

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