Yesterday was a big day in our home. Our lovely daughter, Sophia, who is soon to turn 15 headed out for an afternoon at her first job. I can hardly believe that we have arrived here. How did it come so quickly? Where have the days, weeks and months gone? I still remember the days when she used to snuggle up on my lap and when those big brown eyes would look up at me telling me that she needed me – I still see that sometimes and know that, in her life, she will always need me.
I remember the first day I took her to preschool (and yes, it only feels like yesterday). She was ever so confident, all dressed up in her green ‘prep uniform’. Perched in the back seat, sitting high in her booster, gripping her barbie backpack, she beamed with excitement. She felt so grown up, with her little brother coo-ing in his carseat beside her. It was a big day. As we drove through the streets of our Suburb I could feel the tightness in my chest increase. I could sense my nerves tingling as I prepared myself to walk her into her class and more importantly, leave her there. I was encouraged by her confidence and that gorgeous smile.
We arrived at Pre-School/Prep, along with many other ‘newbies’ and the anticipation of what lay ahead propelled this lovely little girl forward. Together, we walked down the path towards check in. As we walked, hand-in-hand, I could feel her grip on my hand tighten. I glanced down at her and as I gazed into her big brown eyes, I could read the signs. I knew instantly that her confidence was waning and her need for me by her side increased. I squeezed her hand, smiled at her and whispered, “I’m so proud of you. You are such an amazing girl’.
Once in the classroom, we tended to the ‘necessary details’ of that first day, all the while, she stayed very close to me. As the time grew closer to my departure, I could tell her level of confidence and security was being challenged. I sensed we were heading towards a very confronting good-bye or rather, see you later. The time finally came and I needed to leave. Those big brown eyes looked up at me and this time, they were filled with tears. My heart ached, her heart ached. All I wanted to do was gather her up in my arms and run for the car. I wanted to take her home and keep her safe and secure in my care. I didn’t want to let her go.
It became very obvious that she didn’t want to let me go either. As I composed myself and comforted her I listened to the instructions of the teachers on how to say good-bye. I cuddled her, consoled her and told her I would (indeed) return. I began my journey out of the room. A journey that was definitely challenging since my little girl had wrapped herself around my left leg. I limped forward, dragging her along, all the while encouraging her to let go. I wondered, would she be okay? Will either of us be okay and would come out of this unscathed? Eventually, I made it out of the room and onto the pathway to the car as I walked, all I could hear was the deep sobs of my little girl. I maintained my own composure until I got into the car and it was then that I too began to sob. Was I doing the right thing? Would she be okay? Would the teachers be gentle and kind with her? Would they speak words of life into her? Would they tell her she was amazing and how proud they were of her? What had I done?
I wiped my tears, blew my nose and began to make my way home. Upon arrival, I was quickly jolted into reality by the piles of laundry that required my attention. I kept myself busy around the house and engaging with my sweet baby boy, Gabriel. I called my Mum (I cried again). I did all I could to pass the time away and found myself first in the pick up line at the end of the school day. I needed to see her and wanted to hear all about the adventures of the day. I wanted to know that the sobbing stopped and that she was okay. Needless to say our greeting was one of excitement and sheer joy.
(Note…. If you’re wondering if that leg clinging, mother limping, situation was a one of… For all the young mum’s out there I wish I could say it was but, for this beautiful child, it took her until year/grade 2 until she stopped crying when I left).
All of this brings me to yesterday. As I drove her to her first job I again felt my chest tighten and that familiar knot in my throat return. I glanced over at this beautiful girl, now perched ever so confidently in the front seat performing all the necessary duties of the car DJ whilst holding onto her Bo-Ho handbag which has replaced that pink Barbie backpack she loved so much. As we arrived at the Japanese Restaurant she is working at I placed my hand on her knee and said, ‘I’m so proud of you. You are such an amazing girl.’ To which she replied with a wink, a click of her tongue, a beautiful smile and a ‘Thanks Mum’.
I dropped her off and told her I would wait in the car park across the road until she was settled. I parked the car, watched her engage with her new boss and sat in awe of how she carried herself. She exuded confidence, she was sure of herself and very secure. My mind drifted to that day back in Preschool and as the tears streamed down my face I smiled to myself and thought ‘We have done something right, look what is infront of me’. With confidence she looked across the street and waved me on saying, “I’m okay Mum, you can go now.’ I couldn’t move. My chest was so tight, my throat was restricted from the pressure, there was an ache in my heart. Time was standing still and I didn’t want another second to go by.
I knew she knew how I was feeling and with that, she gave me her signature Sophia head tilt, a smile and a knowing look through those big brown eyes and yes, a little wave. My sweet darling girl is growing up and once again I find myself not wanting to let her go.
As I drove away in the rain I was caught by the song that was playing on the radio. It’s a song called ‘Let Her Go’ by Passenger. Have a listen and imagine the tears that flowed as I made my way home. I love our girl!