The second you let go of my hand, my heart knew what was coming next.
Even though you had been a bit nervous. Even though you had asked me to stay. Even though everyone else held tightly to their mama’s hand.
Somehow I knew that you would turn around and say, “Don’t worry, mom. I’ve totally got this.” And somehow I also knew that I would smile and let you go.
I stood there for a beat and watched your backpack bounce on your little legs as you waved goodbye. I didn’t cry or anguish that I hadn’t been able to walk you down the hall with all the other the parents. I simply expected that this is how it had to be.
You and me on the first day of kindergarten.
I suppose others may have wondered what would lead a little girl to be so bold and a mama to be so okay with such independence, but you and I know that this is how our story goes. For in many ways, we have grown up together. You, fierce and furious. Me, deliberate and slow.
You were the baby I came home to the day I first heard the diagnosis of stroke. I picked you up and held you tight and prayed that I would make it to see you here in this place. Your furious was calm to me. Your fierce made me brave in the face of my fear. You were my reason to fight.
In therapy. In loss. In life. In those early days of our stretching.
You were the toddler who saw me weak and broken, who held my hand while the other one held a cane. You ran. I tripped. You escaped. I hobbled. You danced. I shuffled. You were the reason to get up every morning and be a mom even when I felt like a lesser, fractured me. You showed me that I wasn’t alone.
In struggling for words. In longing for independence. In knowing that I was so much more. In those middle days of learning what it meant to be limited.
You were the little girl who walked with me, who got me, who loved me in the hard places that no one else could go. You calmed my restlessness as I faced life with your little sister. You showed me that my weakness could be her strength. You and I were living proof that life and love and growing up doesn’t bend into perfect little cookie cutters. You let me be different.
In our day to day. In our waking up and snuggling down. In our minute by minute, moment by moment. In all the ways that matter.
You let me be me so I could let you be you.
Fierce, strong and fiery. Facing life with a loud “TA DA!” Loving big and bold and bravely.
So that when anyone wonders what came before, you and I can tuck the reason deeply into our hearts and you can let go of my hand, knowing I’ll be there with a smile should you need to turn around, reminding you to take every day as a chance to say one more time…
“Don’t worry, mom. I’ve totally got this.”