A few weeks ago we went to an event at Marlowe’s future school. It was the day we got the call that she was officially in. We were thrilled and happy to be invited to an event that very night. You know, “a chance to meet the students and parents.” I’m a pretty big introvert. If we’re being open here (aren’t we always?) It’s taken me a good year or two of hard work to finally be able to go out and public and socialize with people without an alcoholic drink in hand. That specific night I wouldn’t have Alex as a buffer or anything to hide behind. It would be me and Marlowe walking into a building of strangers where I was guaranteed to have to meet and mingle with a lot of people.
But I was excited for her and ready for it. I wasn’t going to not go and have Marlowe miss out because of my nerves. And if I’m being honest, I guess I wasn’t that nervous– because again, I’ve been working hard on my self. Marlowe said she was happy to go and didn’t share too many other ideas/feelings with me otherwise. So we were in.
But as we walked across the street together and in towards the doors of the building she grabbed my hand. We walked into this new and foreign space with a room full of strangers hand in hand, together. But as she grabbed my hand, the feeling that came over me was fear. Not because of the strangers or the impending social interactions that would take place. But I had a shameful moment of fear in how I would be perceived holding her hand. I worried I would be judged. I worried that the parents or teachers might look at me as a controlling or overbearing type– you know, the mother who chose to homeschool to keep her kid close and was incapable of letting her be her own person. While you guys very well know this is the furthest from the truth a wave of panic came over me anyway… because I was walking into the school hand in hand with my kid. Honestly, I feel almost shameful even admitting this now, but unnecessary fear of judgment was real.
A lot of thoughts quickly went through my head. I wondered how Marlowe felt. And I wondered if she was holding my hand out of fear, for comfort, out of habit, or (hopefully not) because she felt like she had to. I turned to Marlowe and said, “You know, you don’t have to hold my hand if you don’t want to.” She replied, “I know, but I want to.” Fair. And at that time, I stopped caring what anyone else might think (if we’re being honest— they probably weren’t thinking anything– it was probably all in my head). I responded, “Fair. You can hold my hand forever. I got you boo.”
Not too much longer she loosened up and was on her way. I was conversing with parents and faculty and she was asking if she could go outside without me. And she did. Running, playing, having a blast without a hand to hold.
Marlowe is wildly independent. I could probably walk into her room now, tell her that we’re packing a bag and she’s flying to Europe alone to stay for a few weeks with a friend and she would probably respond, “Really?! Can I go to London?!” She loves me to death– I know this. And always responds, “you’re my favorite too” every time I tell her she’s mine– but I know she’ll be okay without me. She loves me, but she rarely needs me there by her side.
And because of this, it catches me off guard every time she reaches for my hand. She doesn’t need my hand and I never require her to hold my hand anymore (we outgrew the toddler stage long ago), but regardless, she reaches for my hand every single day. And while it still surprises me, I’m grateful for it because I know I don’t have much time left to hold her tiny hand. I know it’s only a matter of time before her hand outgrows mine. So every feeling of surprise is matched with a feeling of gratitude.
I saw a quote the other day, something along the lines of, “we only have 18 summers with our children.” It hit me hard. I never looked at the passing year that way. We all know adulthood *officially starts at 18* but when you break summers down into a number, the time seems so much shorter. And even shorter when you’re aware that summers quickly become the summers of *friends and no parents please* much sooner than the 18th year rolls around.
It’s inevitable. I can’t stop it.
But I wouldn’t want to if I could. Her growing into her own independent, self-sufficient, amazing person is the sweetest gift I could have ever asked for. Regardless— now and later, if she needs it, my hand is there.
Happy weekend, friends. Enjoy the sweet stuff.