I just dropped my son Caidin off at school for a two-day overnight and it made me think of how much we grow as parents.
When Caidin was in third grade, (eight years old,) I’m standing with the other moms down by the gym, waiting to pick him up. The outside door opens and in rushes the sixth graders, just back from a week away at a Nature camp.
photo credit: John Scott
My heart races, my palms get sweaty. ‘Oh my God,’ I think, ‘in three years, I’m going to have to let Caidin go away for a whole week.’ Panic is setting in. I sidle over to a few of the sixth-grade moms and I say, ‘oh, were the kids away this week?’ and one mom says, ‘yes, for the whole week!’ So I say, ‘was it hard to let them go?’ There were crickets for a moment as they looked at me curiously. ‘No, not at all. I missed mine, but it was good to have the week.’
We were interrupted as my little guy came running down the stairs, flinging his Papier-mâché otter at me, and giving me a great big hug. ‘Can we go for fro-yo?’ The other moms greeted their returning warriors, home from their week-long sleep away, and we all went our separate ways.
As we drove out of the parking lot, I couldn’t help think about how I would be sending Caidin off with the school in just a few years. Would he be ready? Would he be ok? Would I be ok?
As it turns out, when sixth grade came along, he was more than ready and I was more than comfortable letting him go.
Today, as Caidin heads into his Senior year, I found myself thinking about the long journey to twelfth grade. Our kids grow so much. They learn so much and so do we.
Sometimes it can be hard to let kids grow up. You forget to see them through present-time eyes. But if you keep seeing who they are in the moment, and supporting the person they are growing into, I can tell you, when the time comes to let them do the things that challenge them, that help them develop, and ultimately that shape who they are, you and they will be ready.
I dropped Caidin off this morning at 9:30. He’d packed his own bag. He barely said goodbye.
My next hurdle will be sending him off to college, but what I’ve learned is that our journey as parents is laid out to lead us step-by-step. Each step we are given an opportunity to let go a little bit more, a little bit more, and to prepare us to send them off into the world.
Here are a few thoughts I have for parents of little ones:
Don’t rush them, they will get there.
Don’t worry about things that are years away. Think about them, but don’t worry. You and your child will be different people when that time comes. The worry is wasted energy and wasted time.
Cherish every age and stage, they are all unique and precious.
In the end, many things are just a phase, so try not to stress so much.
Give them room to breathe.
But always let them know you are there.
And step-by-step loosen the invisible string that connects you.
If you do, when it’s time to send them off, they will be ready and so will you.