I sat in the car line this morning and I watched a sea of children march into the school from their parents’ cars. Truly, there was only one kid I was watching, and that was mine. With his ready-for-summer buzz cut and his dinosaur backpack, he looked so grown up and so small at the same time. How is that even possible? He has a single digit number of days left in kindergarten and this routine of ours is just that, routine. Every morning, he gives me a kiss on the cheek, gives his little brother a fist bump (seriously the cutest thing EVER), and then he hops out of the car. He used to turn around when he got out of the car or before he walked in the door to the school, but he doesn’t do that much anymore. He’s not scared. He’s not longing for me. He’s not nervous about where to go once he gets inside. It’s a comfortable place for him.
I am both so happy and so crestfallen by his ability to walk away.
He is still my little boy and he still needs me. I have no doubt about that. But he is six years old and he’s walking away from me a little more every day. He needs me a little less with each passing month. There were times when he was young that I pleaded for the days that he would need me less, that he would learn to put on clothes, wipe his own backside, learn to use a spoon, etc.
And then the day comes when you can’t remember the last time someone needed a sippy cup or the last time you had to buckle someone in the car. And suddenly you miss it a little bit. That independence you so fiercely pleaded for arrives and you are left with such satisfaction and also a little bit of sadness. How’s that for a mixed bag of emotions? I cannot count the number of times I have gone from happy to sad, or excited to longing over the same event. I’m kind of a basketcase that way…
Most of the time, I don’t have a clue that I am watching them walk away until the moment is long gone.
I watch the back of their sweet heads walk (and sometimes run) away from me over and over again — into school, into church, or across an open field. And because I’m a little slow sometimes, I am just starting to understand that I will spend my entire life letting them go, piece by piece.
I love pictures of my kids walking away and I always have. I don’t know if it is because they look so much alike from the back or because they always seem to be holding hands when I snap the picture. Or maybe if they are walking away, I don’t have to give directions for both of them to look at the camera AT THE SAME TIME and try to smile. No, not that silly smile. No, not that bug-eyed smile. No, please don’t stick your tongue out again. Please, Mommy just wants one good picture today…
Every single picture I have of them walking away from me tells a story about a day in our life, because we have some good ones. But I look at each of these pictures through more than just that literal lens. It has to do with what I imagine when I see these pictures. I see kids who have each other. I see kids who face the world without fear. I see kids who walk away from their safety net into adventure and unknown opportunities. I see dreamers and builders and world changers because the world is stretched out in front of them.