Friday, September 23, 2011

Letting Go

When I was a kid, every year on my birthday my mom would make me promise that I wouldn't have another birthday for an entire year.  First I thought she was trying to be funny. Later, I thought she was nuts.  Now I get it.

I was growing up way too fast.

Those very thoughts were going through my mind as my just-yesterday-he-was-a-baby son and I walked up to his new school for the first day of kindergarten.  It seems like only moments since this little newborn was nestled into his sleep-deprived father's arms.  Today, we were starting school.

As we marched toward the covered play area to scan the class lists, I felt a little hand slip inside mine and give me a squeeze. As the cacophany of pre-pubescent voices grew louder, the little hand squeezed tighter. Eventually, we found his name on the list, stood in the appropriate line, and awaited his teacher to usher us into the class room.

Despite the cliche moment which was charged with such emotion, calmness prevailed.

Until it was time to let go.

As Connor's new teacher guided us to the classroom, the tears began to well my eyes. As we reached the doorway to his latest life's adventure, that same little hand slipped out of mine, reached around my neck for a big hug, and then was gone.

As much as anything, parenthood is successive stages of letting go:  the independence that comes with first steps, the day you discover you are no longer needed to give pushes on the swings, the first day of school.

I'm convinced the best parents are the ones who can let go--who celebrate the moments of growth and independence as their child comes of age.

I'm just not so sure I fit into that category yet.