I was out for a swim the other day, and as we passed the trees still full of green leaves, the sweaty weather still ever present – it’s definitely summer, but fall is definitely around the corner and the change to the lazy day routines is fast approaching. There’s the reintroduction of bedtimes, homework and information nights as the new school year begins. The summer has been such a lovely respite from all that. It’s nearly time to rush out for necessary school supplies and unnecessary but very wanted school clothes. There is some comfort to these traditions, and some sadness as I realize these days too are coming to a close. Each transition pulls on the heart strings of a parent, there may be excitement, pride, and also a knowledge that with each one your child grows to be all that more independent.
I can see the long-ago scene in my mind like a rerun of a favorite tv show episode. My then 3-year old son, in overalls and a striped shirt with shiny blue Stride Rite sneakers, looked back at me from his new preschool classroom. I went to hang up his jacket and backpack on his assigned hook and he turned around to find me and said, “Mom?”
“I’m right here,” I assured him with a bright smile, ready to be there all day to comfort him in this new place.
“I thought I was coming alone today,” he said, confused.
So that was it. He was ready for preschool and let me know it in no uncertain terms. I saw this would be an easy goodbye and hugged and kissed him. As I turned for one last look, he gave me only a quick backwards wave as he turned to go find something to play with. Wow, that was easy. For him! I went to the car, bravely, and then collapsed into a heap of sobs. And from that day on my oldest son has pretty much always loved school.
Now that boy is 21 and graduating college this winter, my daughter is in her second year of college, and my youngest is off to his second year of high school! Sometimes I pause in the mornings, not sure what to do. Sure, I have work to go to, but my mornings are different now. My kids simply don’t need me in the same way they once did. It’s clear that I need to change my own perspective and figure out how they do need me. It’s certainly not to hang their jackets and backpacks on their assigned hooks. Those days are long gone.
I know a parent is never done parenting. I know this because I call my parents quite regularly for advice, support, comfort, companionship. I know my children will need my guidance as they face their next steps, tough decisions, and endure heartbreak. But I also know they are ready for this next step – their independence. And while I am very proud of them and excited for them, I’d be lying if I said I was completely ready and not a little bit sad.
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