I’ve been a mom now for 12 years. I have three amazing children. All of whom come with their own unique set of challenges as we go through this journey of life together. Being a mom is the best job, feeling, title, greatest accomplishment in the world. I’ve always felt though, that being a mom also meant letting your heart out into this big, scary world with the risk of it coming back broken, shattered, stomped on. The day I became a mom I’ve tried to work on this, I know I can’t wrap my kids up in bubble wrap and follow them around everywhere.
Today I was faced with a new mom-challenge that I knew was coming, but I tried to deny it for as long as possible. Today my oldest baby and I attended orientation at her new, HUGE school. In less than a week she’ll be starting junior high.
It feels like yesterday that I was sitting in my car outside her elementary school, ugly crying as she went off to her first day of kindergarten. And somehow it seems like seconds ago I held her in my arms for the first time. In the twelve years since giving birth to my first baby, it’s been quite the ride, to say the least. Full of many firsts…and so many bumps along the way.
You hear it all the time when you first become a parent – “they grow up so fast”, “cherish every minute, before you know it they’ll be all grown up”. But is there anything that can really, truly prepare you for how fast all this happens? Is there anything that can help you feel comfortable sending your kids out, on their own into the world? I don’t think there is. Even when my kids are 40 I’ll want to protect them from pain. The ugly truth is, I can’t. We can’t always protect our kids. They need to learn how to navigate through life on their own – because who really wants their 40 year old child living in their basement, playing video games all day while you still wash and fold their laundry?
With that said, it still doesn’t make this new chapter in my daughter’s (and my) life any easier – for me. She’s ready. She’s excited. She has to take the LRT to her new school. By herself. I’ve always driven her to school/daycare. Her new school has none of her elementary friends. She’s a newbie. Knows nobody. It’s a gigantic school, over 2000 kids. What if she forgets to get off at the right stop? What if someone starts to harass her on the LRT? Or at school? What if she gets lost in the school? What if she doesn’t make any friends? What if she gets bullied? What if she falls into the wrong crowd? What if, what if, what if…it’s endless. How am I supposed to just send her off, to do this all on her own? In elementary, it was a small school. I knew her friends’ parents. I knew the teachers. All the teachers knew her. She excelled. She did well. But what if junior high treats her differently? What if junior high hurts her? How am I supposed to risk the possibility of all that happening to my BABY?
Trust. That’s all I can come up with. I’m far from a perfect mom, I still learn everyday, but I need to trust that all the work I put into creating a human being these past 12 years was done well. I need to trust that I’ve instilled good morals, good values and the knowledge of right and wrong into her. I need to trust my daughter to remember who she is, where she came from and what she stands for (which I tell her to remember every day she walks out the door).
There is nothing that can truly prepare a parent for sending their child off on their own. But there is one main thing that can help us all through it. I ran into another mom friend of mine today and she was visibly upset. She ended up crying on my shoulder because she has to leave her one year old in daycare. It’s tearing her apart. She’s not ready for it. Just as I’m not ready for my baby to head to junior high (her oldest also is heading to junior high next week so she’s hit with a double whammy). It was through this interaction that I realized, us parents can and will survive our kids growing up on us by being there for each other. However that may be…
Reach out to your other parent friends. They’re going through it all too. None of us should have to go through it alone. We can lean on each other, cry to each other, give each other advice and if need be, all be on the door step to intimidate that boy who wants to take one of our daughters’ on a date (because that’s next! 😨)
We’ll never let go of our kids, because they’re a part of us. They’re part of heart, our soul, our entire reason for living. All we can do is trust. And never stop being there for them as they venture out into the world on their own. Our kids need to know that there’s at least one place they can always feel safe, happy and loved…which is with you.
I will admit I feel slightly ridiculous with all these emotions I’m feeling over junior high. I can’t imagine what sending her off to college is going to be like. In the meantime, I’m going to just try and take it all one day at a time, one breath at a time. Baby girl, I love you more everyday. You’ve got this – and never forget, I’ve always got your back.