Ever since Sylvia showed up, I keep reaching these moments where life just smacks me in the face. They generally correspond with her big milestones and they force me to look into our future and imagine what life will be like in the coming months or years. This morning was one of those bittersweet moments, and like the rest, I was enormously unprepared for it.
It's amazing how accustomed I've become to our morning routine, from the minute I wake up to the minute I drop her off. Packing bottles, lugging a diaper bag, snapping car seat straps. It's all very mundane and boring. I drove around the back of the church where I drop her off every morning and parked the car in the same spot I've used for the last ten months. I pulled her out of her car seat, reached for the diaper bag on the floorboard, and balanced my keys in my hand so I could lock the car and shut the door. As I went to stand up straight, she did that squirmy, toddler-Houdini move where she twists and turns and slides down my leg until...Oh my! She's standing on the pavement holding onto my pants leg.
I laughed and said, "What are you doing, silly goose? You wanna walk? Okay!" I stuck out my finger and her little hand wrapped around it. Then we walked together across the parking lot, her face beaming, her mouth giggling, and her whole body screaming "Look at me! I'm a big girl!"
In that ten second trip from the car door to the daycare door, I felt so many different emotions. I was so proud of her. And it felt incredibly liberating to know that I don't have to hold her anymore. But I was a teeny tiny bit sad because she was acting SO grown up! She clearly doesn't need me to carry her. She prefers to walk. She chooses independence over Mama's arms. Yipes. I can barely wrap my mind around it!
In teaching, we call the moment where you let a kid attempt something all by themselves the "release of responsibility," and it's constantly argued that teachers have a problem doing it. Most teachers give students too much help and cannot cut the puppet strings, even though they know deep down the students can do it. I suppose the same goes for parenting. I am constantly trying to help her or guide her or support her, but she always reminds me that she can do it. All by herself. Because she's a big girl. And I'll just have to deal.
We walked through the door and down the hallway. The girls in her room were cheering her on. "Look at you, Sylvia! You're such a big girl!" She waved goodbye to me and didn't cry when I left. I sat in my car and heaved a giant sigh. What comes next? Before I know it, I'll be walking her straight into her kindergarten classroom. Then I'll blink, and she'll be walking across the graduation stage. I didn't cry about it, but I sat there for a sweet minute, thinking about my baby. Then I put the car in gear and said out loud...
Bye, bye, little girl!