Letting go and giving up are two things that do not come easily to me. I am not built that way, especially where my girls are concerned. Yes, I give in to them almost on a daily basis but I’m talking about giving into the belief that they are not capable of anything they want or set their minds to. The letting go, I will never get any better at the letting go. But the two seem to go hand in hand. In order for them to build the confidence in themselves to know they can be and do anything, I have to remove the training wheels from the situation. The training wheels would be me. The letting go is painful. For me, letting go is the hardest part of parenting. I have proof of this, as I sat in my car in the parking lot of the preschool this morning and cried as the rain poured down all around me. It’s as if heaven itself was heartbroken or maybe that was just me. It physically hurts my heart to walk away from my children. I now know that I could never home school because if I did, when they left for college, the letting go would literally kill me. I’d be dead on the spot. I need these tiny occasions of letting go to prep me for the big ones, like college and marriage. We raise our children to leave us. This is the earmark of a good parent. The pain and guilt we feel when we leave our babies behind or don’t measure up to our impossible standards of parenting are a true sign of a good parent.
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This morning, Abs woke up and practically sprung from the bed, but only after doing a little horizontal happy dance while screaming ” It’s my first day of COOL!” (she still has problems with those S’ but how I love her little baby talk. I savor it like fine wine.) This same morning the lump in my throat was so big, I thought it would choke me to death. We did our mandatory photo ops and first day of school breakfast. After a pep talk from her big sis, Gabs was waiting with her coat and back pack on, 20 minutes before we had to leave the house. The Big Guy drove to drop off as I sat in introspective silence. My heart was tearing away from my chest in slow painful beats. The girls were giggling and excitedly talking a million miles a minute. My heart was swelling with pride at their independence. My head was spinning and it was everything I could do not to blink, so the tears didn’t make their way to the surface and splash out of my lids revealing my secret. I knew this would be difficult but I hadn’t anticipated the magnitude of the hurt.
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I made idle chit chat with the other parents to try and find some repose from the pain that the lump in my throat was causing in my heart. My words were met with the nervous laughter of Mothers about to lose their shit and collapse into collective pools of snot and tears, just beyond the preschool door. I busied myself snapping photos to commemorate the momentous occasion but that damn lump in my throat just kept growing and growing. It was so big that I felt as if it would swallow me whole at any moment. I stood there watching the whole thing take place but I was helplessly paralyzed. I wanted to run to her and scoop her up and take her home with me but I couldn’t. I had to walk away. I have a firm, never let them see me cry when dropping them off policy. I can’t. If I do, they will feel unsafe. They will wonder ” Where the hell ( yes, I am sure my kids curse in their own minds) is she leaving me? Is she coming back? Why’s she crying? It must be dangerous! Mommy! Come back!I’ll be good!!!”
The Big Guy was the one to make the decision that it was time to leave. Someone had to force me, I’m sure if he hadn’t I would have stood there frozen like a heartbroken statue for the rest of the day. I won’t lie. I was angry that he was making me leave. Who the hell did he think he was? This. is. MY.BABY!! I watched as he walked over to her and gently hugged and kissed her goodbye, with an “I love you” and “We’ll be back soon.” My eyes were stinging. I snapped photos. Then I swallowed hard, took a deep breath and held my baby girl in my arms before I left her for the very first time. I gave her a thousand kisses and told her how proud I was of her, how much fun she would have and how much I loved her. Then I turned and, as if in slow motion, walked away, looking back over my shoulder to drink in the face of my beautiful little girl. I was blinded by the tears that were filling my vision. She looked unsure but excited, as I suspect we all look on those very important days of our lives… first days, your wedding day, the day you give birth to your own child. Beginnings are exciting, goodbyes are sad but the in between is where all the living takes place. I swallowed harder than I’ve ever swallowed before to hold back that gargantuan lump in my throat, for fear that the next breath could bring a flood of tears and Mommy blubbering.