The tears were unexpected. This morning I made my daughter’s last lunch of her first grade school year. As I zipped up her lunch box, in a whisper, I told my husband that on her next birthday she will be eight and later this year she will enter second grade. Everyday I realize how much she is turning into her own person. Her questions center on ideas outside herself. A few days ago she asked about Betsy Ross and the Statue of Liberty. She is curious about geography, time, and space. The more she wonders about the world, I realize her center is expanding. As she discovers her own footing, it magnifies the tunnel in which I view time. The cadence is so fast, all of it pointing to one truth: how to let go.
Letting go is everywhere although we don’t always witness it. Near our house, in the cradle of a cactus, there is an owl’s nest. It is a popular attraction in our neighborhood. There are two baby owls nestled in their home, while the mother and father watch over them on the rooftops of opposite homes. Anytime anyone nears the nest, their eyes narrow, waiting, protecting, and ensuring no harm comes to their babies. We all watched as the owlets, who first looked liked baby pups, grew to little mini versions of their parents. For almost 2 months, they cemented themselves to the nest, while the father owl brought food to nourish them. Yesterday, for the first time, the owlets took flight, their parents teaching them how to hunt and survive.
The intersection of my daughter finishing first grade and these owlets leaving, magnified what I already know. As I watched Les Miserables this past weekend, I was struck by one line uttered by Jean Valjean when looking at Cosette from a distance, realizing that his daughter was never his to keep.
I think that is what letting go is all about. Your children are never yours to keep.
“They are not ours to keep.”
But we are privileged to nurture them, to have our own child eyes reopened by them, and if we’re lucky, to share in their discoveries as they fly the nest.
It really is true…and I’ve often found this paradox so difficult to comprehend. We have to love our children to the point where we can’t live without them, but we have to love them enough to eventually let them go.
I feel your bittersweet pain at the end of yet another school year. My son is one year ahead of your daughter, so we’re kind of in lockstep. The end of each school year becomes this rhythm that just seems to be happening more and more frequently with each passing year.
All of our lives we struggle to hold on and let go at the same time…to parents, children, siblings, friends…but love and time have a way of letting of us do just what we need to when we need to.
The hardest lesson for a mother to learn is the “letting go.” Hugs, sweet friend. You may have to let go, but you hold them in your heart forever. xo
Baby owls in a cradle of cactus. All I can say is you had me at baby owls in a cradle of cactus.
It’s the most bittersweet part of life, the growing of our babies.
Miss M. is the same age, and reading this made me cry! Second grade sounds so (gulp) old to me…
Very eloquent and elegant writing; I will pass it on. We really only have this moment, and then another moment, and another. All we can do is embrace the life we are living now.
A colleague of mine, whose teenage son died of cancer, said that to me once and I always carry it with me. They’re just angels on loan. I have one almost done with 1st grade too…it goes so fast!
I agree with BLW, “we are privileged to nurture them, to have our own child eyes reopened by them, and if we’re lucky, to share in their discoveries as they fly the nest”….I love how she said it, a perfect capture . Rudri, just remember of all the wonderful things that you will share as she gets older, different than now, but great!
Oh, Rudri – that’s probably the hardest part about parenting. The letting go. I feel that pang every day as I see my girls blossom. So proud of who they’re becoming, but also a little sad to see what they’re leaving behind.
p.s. I can’t wait to meet you tonight!
So true and the time goes FAST!
Visiting from SITS.