[Dash of SAS] Growing up and letting go
It probably started when I engulfed her in a tight squeeze and as she dropped her arms to her sides, said, “Um, Mom, this hug is taking too long. This is just… awkward.”
Well, I wish I could say it (only) started then; there were little signs even before.
I think one of my biggest misconceptions of parenthood is that her growing up and my letting go would come as this one big moment of goodbye; in the form of a send off like walking down the aisle, packing for college, or like today, her graduation from elementary school. (Which because of the whole K-12 re-shuffling came earlier rather than later.)
In between days
In between, there were moments that reminded me that she’s growing up, needs space or wants her independence to be respected. And almost always, they would come when I least expected them.
Like the time at the amusement park when the ride operator blocked me with his hand and said, “No parents or adults allowed on the ride,” a bit too sternly for me.
“What do you mean no adults on the ride? She’s only three years old!” I said, incredulously.
Unfazed, the operator said, “Three is the minimum age.” When he pointed to the sign on the ride, I knew any protest on my part would be futile and bordering on the ridiculous given that the teeny tiny seats wouldn’t have fit me and her friends anyway.
At three, she was oblivious to what was going on and just happily went on her way to get on the ride with her friends with me watching from the sidelines.
It wasn’t until the trio came clambering down from their bucket seats that I realized I was holding my breath the entire time.
After him, it was the lady guard at her big school when she took a summer enrichment program to prepare for grade 1.
The lady guard stopped me at the gate, telling me that was as far as I was going.
“But I brought her to her classroom yesterday,” I protested.
“That was the first day po kasi. Ngayon po na second day na, kailangan po hayaan na natin sila. Alam na nila yun,” she said gently, and with much understanding. [That’s because that was the first day. Today, it’s the second day, we have to leave them be. They know already.]
I imagine I’m not the only parent who received this mini letting go speech.
I bent down (it was still necessary then) to talk to her and asked her if she could still manage to remember her way to her classroom.
Five years after, I still remember watching her from the gate, scampering off, her backpack – which was almost as big as her – bouncing up and down as she ran. She looked back every so often to see if I was still there and we would wave to each other.
The next day was easier; there was no more need for the reminder from the guard, but every day, the routine was the same. I still waited at the gate until she turned the corner to her classroom.
Years later at her 8th birthday, she took it upon herself to remind me when we literally fought over the microphone about who was going to host the games. When I saw her moping in the corner, I knew I had to let her have her way.
And today, she finished grade school and I just completed one-third of the finish line.
She is one step closer to being who ever it is she hopes to be and I’m just amazed at how fast it all was – is.
One of the best things about being a solo mom is that for the most part, there’s just the two of you. One of the worst things about being a solo mom is that for the most part, there’s just the two of you.
It’s the latter that accounts for my ambivalence about the process of letting go. Maybe parenthood was benevolently meant to be a series of letting go, little by little and moment by moment.
A few weeks before her graduation, she may have sensed my gnawing feeling of nostalgia. She went into my room, spread out her arms and said, “Let’s pretend I’m seven again—tell me a bedtime story.”
It was harder than we thought it would be.
Her bedtime books gave way to the likes of Harry Potter and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid so we had to recall the stories from memory and just ended up getting confused about what the hungry caterpillar ate on what day, why the grouchy little bug was such a grump and how to say good night to the moon. We started making things up, laughing at how silly our stories sounded and gave up after awhile.
“Thanks, babe, for making this easier for me,” I told her, without having to explain.
I engulfed her in a tight squeeze and I knew I held on longer than I should have, but this time, it wasn’t awkward at all. – Rappler.com