This morning I dropped Monkey off at school like usual, but today one of her friends was going in the building at the same time. She shouted her name out and ran up to her. I watched my girl shake her hair out of her face, sling her backpack over one shoulder, and settle in to an animated conversation with her friend as they strolled into the building.
Suddenly, it struck me how grown up she has become. I flashed back to my own youth, and the sense of individual freedom that came with leaving my mother’s car and settling in to walk into the building with a friend. I remember distinctly the feeling of independence and the feeling of starting my day.
My little girl, the one who grew in my tummy, who nursed at my breast, who followed me everywhere I went, has her own life. A life that starts when I leave her side. She has her own conversations, her own relationships, her own troubles, and I don’t see or hear them. They exist outside of my life.
My baby is growing up.
As I watched her walk away from me and into her day I felt oddly bereft. I have always felt that motherhood is a touch cruel. It begins with the closest connection you can have between two people, the growing of a baby and the complete dependence of an infant then it becomes an exercise in teaching that baby to leave your side. Each day after birth is about teaching them to leave your side, to be independent, to stretch and in some ways break, that initial baby connection.
Ours is broken. My little baby girl has broken out of her dependence on me. She has her own little life, a complete world, without me in it.
It’s no wonder we are finding it hard to connect these days. I have been trying to hold onto my baby, and I should have been trying to connect with my young woman. She doesn’t need me to be there for everything anymore, in fact, she needs me to leave her on her own to figure things out, and to only come to her aid when she seeks me out.
It is time for me to let her break that initial bond, in exchange for a new, more peer-like bond. It is time for me to listen to her, and to consider her view point and her ideas, for they are no longer mirrors of my own. It is time for me to treat her more like her own complete person, and less like an extension of myself.
It is time for me stand back, watch her walk away, and try not to look too sad as I wait for her on the sidelines.