My kids started second and sixth grade a few weeks ago. The start of the school year has been an event for the past 6 years but this year, we threw something new into the mix. Over the summer we moved across country. So my kids started new schools, 3000 miles away from their old one, away from all their friends, not going to the same school together, riding buses for the first time...whew, I'm getting tired just writing about all these changes!
The move has brought changes for us all but having moved around as an adult, started new jobs and entering new social situations, I feel pretty comfortable with at least having the patience to wait for peace of mind and order to come to my life. The kids, on the other hand...this is a lot for them.
I feel like my 11-year-old daughter has the biggest adjustment of all. Not only is she going through all the changes I described, but she also started 6th grade...middle school! She went from her cozy little school with her cozy group of friends in her cozy little classroom to new kids, new standards, a locker, ringing bells and figuring this all out while going through all the other changes that go along with living as a pre-teen girl. That's enough to make anyone crazy. And while she is adjusting as well as I could possibly expect her to, there are struggles. And with those struggles come my struggles...the anxiety I cannot show my daughter, the tears I won't let her see and the fears I'll never tell her I have.
In the 11 years she has been my daughter, I have already gone through a few stages of letting go. I let go when she learned to crawl, then walk, then talk. I let go when she started kindergarten, had her first sleepover and was away from home from the first time. With each step I cried a bit, then stood back with pride as I watched my daughter make her way into the next phase of independence. Of course I was scared, anxious, nervous but I knew I had done what I could do to prepare her. The rest, including the failures and bumps along the road, were up to her.
Middle school though - so far away from what she has known for so long, so much new, so much unfamiliar - took me by surprise. I knew I'd be emotional, but I didn't realize quite how much. Watching my daughter walk off with her guidance counselor on the first day, I was immediately stopped in my tracks. No more walking her to class and hugging her on the first day as a teacher welcomes her out of my arms into hers. No more knowing almost all the kids she in class with. There were new subjects, new adventures, and I had to let her navigate so much on her own. I had to watch from afar, hope for the best, hug when needed one, walk away when she didn't. I had to, once again let go.
I know this is just the beginning. I'll be letting go more, and then the day will come for me to let go of my son. But of course, I will never really let go. I may not have the baby girl I used to but I see every day how much my daughter still needs me. The needs are different, but the drive remains the same. And although it seems like I have thrown her to the wolves, I know she is safe in her new pack. I can let go.