She walks off with her overnight bag rolling behind her. She looks bigger as she walks further and further away from me. Her friends are dancing and cheering in the window. She’s well-loved. She’s my sweet baby girl. Although, the baby is less and less and the big-kid persona seems to keep finding her. She’s walking into the fun and excitement of her first sleepover.
The further she gets from my reach, the further my heart sinks. In worry, in anticipation, and in all the new emotion that this new step brings. She’s ready. I’m not sure I am. It’s a simple occasion but it’s also another step into growing up, and growing bigger. As she steps on the porch, she somehow looks more mature than she did just seconds ago in the car.
She barely rings the doorbell before she is charismatically greeted by her smiling friends. She’s anxious and ecstatic, all at the same time. She is hiding it, but I can see the slight pause in her step and her goodbye. She is a mama’s girl, through and through, so naturally it slips out sometimes, even when she works to hide it.
I love seeing her like this, smiling, happy, and welcomed by the friends she has chosen. I love seeing the laughter and the joy that radiates from all of them as they hug and scream and jump. I put all of her belongings down, and I know it’s time to leave. I hesitate. I watch her a little longer. I watch as she follows the girls up the stairs and into the birthday party fun. She notices me. She quickly runs down for one more hug and in an instant she’s joining them again, racing towards the adventure.
I step outside and walk to the car. I’m glad I’m alone so no one can see the few tears that stream down my face. Motherhood and love slipping out of my eyes and down my face. It looks like tears, it could even resemble sadness, but really it’s love. It’s a love that appreciates new milestones and also recognizes their bittersweet companionship. She’s getting bigger and more grown, and it’s both exhilarating and gut-wrenching at the same time.
I drive away as she begins her night and I remember the sweet words she whispered as she stepped out of the car. “Mom, please don’t worry about me. I’ll be ok.” She’s only 8 so she doesn’t know that worry is a companion of motherhood. It’s delicately woven into our hearts and our minds. She doesn’t know that I will worry now, and always, when she’s away. Not enough to be irrational, but enough that my heart feels comforted best when she’s in my sight and in my reach.
She’s ready for this. I wasn’t, until this very moment. Watching her changed that. She’s ready, so I am too. Afterall, she’s ready because we prepared her, for independence and freedom and fun. Just like the saying, roots and wings. We gave her both. So now it’s time to let her go. To trust her and to trust the world too.
It’s not easy. It’s a process, a new escapade of motherhood… and I’m just a phone call away should her confidence fade.
A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.