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Letting you go

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Today when I looked at you, you seemed all grown up. Your hat was on backwards. You wore a devilish grin. And as we crossed the street, you refused to hold my hand.

“No Mommy”, you said.

“I big boy.”

You smiled.

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I could almost see the teenager in you. The young man you would become.

And that’s when I realized —

One day, I’ll have to let you go.

I remember taking you home from the hospital. I woke up every morning excited to see what the day would bring. To watch you sleep. To feel the weight of you. We learned from each other and forgave just as much. The hours, days, and months would pass by and it seemed like we had forever.

Just you and me.

And then your sister was born. My heart grew in size but I felt yours break. Just a little. So I showered you with love so you could feel how much you meant to me. So you could feel that I was there. Just like before. When it was just you and me.

The months turned into years and we were at preschool. With new shoes on and lunchbox in hand, I worried it was too soon. That you weren’t ready yet. And as I squeezed you at the door trying my best to fight back tears, I saw that only one of us was crying.

But tonight when I hugged you and sang your goodnight song, you hugged me back. You told me about your day through mumbled toddler words that sometimes only I can understand. And I did. With your head on my shoulder and my cheek on yours, I understood that you needed me.

Because I needed you, too.

I know how it works. This parenting thing. We’re supposed to take the best parts of us and give them to you. To foster independence, to teach you to be brave, and raise you to be kind. We’re supposed to let you navigate the world and find your own way when sometimes all we really want is for you to find your way back home.

And even though I know it won’t be today. Or tomorrow. I know that every night when I tuck you in, when we exchange ‘I love you’, you are just a little bit older.

A little less mine.

So for now, while you’re still small, I’m going to hold you. Run my fingers through your hair. Stare a little too long. I will try to memorize your face. Your smile. The way your voice sounds as you call out my name. I will try to remember all of these beautiful moments we have together.

The moments before that one day I’ll have to let you go.

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