Letting Go, Again
by Ellen M. Morrison, Ph.D.
It's 8:11a.m. on a Tuesday. School day. For the past eleven years, this
particular time of day has meant "get to school." For all the change that we
have experienced, different jobs, different schools, different priorities,
those powerful moments between 8:00 and 8:30 have always raised the pulse . .
"Shake a leg, we'll be late for school!" . . .
"Whew! Made it to school 30 seconds before first bell!" . . . More than once
during those eleven years I caught myself, away at an early, out-of-town
meeting, looking at my watch, hoping her dad got her to school on time.
This morning, though, instead of leading the panicked rush out the door, I
have become a spectator. I stand on the front porch, holding the cat against
his will and pathetically waving his paw as she drives away alone for the
first time, giving a broad grin and a thumbs up as she glides down the
We don't let go of our children all at once, but rather moment by moment.
There's the moment you first leave her with a friend or relative for a dinner
out because they insist that you need time to be a couple. There's the first
day back to work, the deep ache in your chest and tears in your throat. The
first weekend away, the first steps, the first sleepover, the first fight
over what she'll wear, her choice of friends, her hair color.
Every time you let go, you know it's time, you know it's right, and you know
it feels too soon and all wrong.
I feel so foolish, choked with tears when she calls to tell me she made the
10 mile drive to school safely. Of course she did. She's driven that route
more than a hundred times in the past ten months as I sipped coffee and tried
to feel natural on the passenger side.
Why does this all feel too soon, when I knew it was coming, planned for it,
looked forward to the freedom it would buy me? How can it feel wrong when I
realize how much more driving experience she has had than I did when I first
drove off alone to school? Why do I feel the reminiscent ache in my chest
when I know what a mature, considerate, cautious young woman she is, what
good sense she has demonstrated as a driver?
Maybe I thought it was all about concern for her safety, when it was really
about the lost opportunities for casual chatting, learning about friends and
teachers, or just quietly sharing the same space that taxiing her around
provided. It's about her not needing me as much. It's about letting go,