Today was my first day dropping Elle off at school. She started kindergarten last week but I was still in Cleveland working through to the blood clot issue. Last week was only a few short, punctuated days of class and getting-to-know-you sessions. Those were days where the excitement and enthusiasm for school was easily captured and drawn upon. This week is when reality sets in and she is starting realize that she will be away from me all day.
Maybe it was because I just got home Sunday and it feels too soon to be apart again. Maybe it’s just normal kindergarten jitters. But as I hugged her goodbye on the playground, she started to tear up. “Mommy” she said in a pained voice that cut right through me, “I don’t want to leave you.”
Of course, I didn’t want to leave her either. Not in that moment. And not in any moments since then. But I know, without a doubt, that she needs to go. And with that, I realized my actual job as her parent.
My job isn’t to keep her from pain, but to walk her through it.
My job isn’t to keep her in this moment where it is safe and comfortable, but to help her grow and mature and move along. As her mom, I will always be thinking about what comes next and scanning the horizon for new obstacles and opportunities. I will always be planning for ways to help guide her and support her as she forges her own way. My ultimate job is to prepare her to live a healthy life without me, and now I realize that every step we take together until then will be in preparation of her making that leap out on her own. (Hopefully years and years and years down the road.)
So even though it hurts, and even though it’s scary, we press forward. When she comes to me in tears (which has been a lot lately) I try to open my heart more and let her in. I’m giving her as much of me as I can when we are together, so she has something to hold on to when we are apart.
In the end, I realize we are growing together. Me toward her, and her, in fractions of inches, away from me. And this is the circle generations of parents and children before us have spun around. But, I couldn’t be more honored and thrilled to have been chosen to be her mom and to stand in the pain with her and hold her as close as I can for as long as I can. And then, when it is time, I will let her go.
So go get ’em little one. Conquer the world. No one believes in you more fiercely than I do and I know there are great things for you just around the bend. And never forget, I’m always with you. Always.
Give ‘Em Hell.