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Learning to Let Go

My son started kindergarten this year. It is the first time we have ever been away from each other during the day. It has been a major turning point and transition for all of us. I realize how the turning points in my own life have changed who I am but now I have seen how this large stepping stone has also shaped my son’s life and who he is becoming.

It was hard watching his nervousness build knowing that when he got up for his first day of school his life would no longer be the same. His schedule would be different, our relationship would change and the dynamics in our house would also shift. A part of him knew that he was going to have to find his courage and self reliance. Change really is the only thing that is constant in life however, change does not come easily for my oldest. Yet I have watched him blossom through this transition.

When I had children, I thought of his first day and knew that it would eventually arrive but nothing prepared me for its greatness. I had created a picture in my head of what it would be like. My mother would be here helping to ease the transition and offering her guidance and encouragement. He would be emotionally prepared and excited. My husband and I would send him off smiling imagining what a bright future awaited him. However, his first day was not like my far off fantasy. My mother was not here physically but I know she was was holding his hand and mine every step of the way. My husband and I prepared him the best we could in hopes that it would be enough.

We sighed knowing that life would be different now, wondering where these past five years have gone. I left a teary little boy squeezing my hand and holding onto his “friend” elephant telling me to stay. At that moment I realized we both needed to let go. I had to let go of wanting my mom here to share in these big milestones, let go of all the expectations, let go of the fear, the doubt, the uncertainty and the anxiety of moving forward. Mostly though, I had to let go of my child who I have held under my protective wing so he could step out on his own. In turn, he had to let go of me and muster the courage to take his first step towards the unknown.

His first day of kindergarten marked a major turning point for our family and life isn’t the same but it is all okay. I will not have my oldest son here during the day to fill that space he has so lovingly filled for the past five years. There is a part of me that misses his presence and at the same time I am breathing in the new freedom.

I am confident my kindergartener will not just survive this new phase of his life but he will thrive. He wore a shirt his first two days of school that said “Be Brave Adventure Awaits” and through his tears he showed such courage. I am so proud of him for stepping way out of his comfort zone in order to try something new, something different, something he has never done before. I am proud of him for finding the courage to breath and let go of me so that I could do the same. He has been such a great teacher for me in so many ways unbeknownst to him. On this day he showed me how to be brave and to trust that everything is perfect and as it should be.

Change can be difficult depending on our level of attachment. I believe it takes a willingness to let go of the attachment to an outcome in order to allow for the unknown to unfold. It is often too easy to get caught in the old stories and patterns and miss the beauty and messiness of the process. On my son’s first day of kindergarten I was witness to what happens when we let go of what we know to allow space for something new. I watch as he continues to bloom and step into his becoming. I also stand with compassion and open arms knowing it will not always be easy.

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