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Reflections from a Mother’s Heart: An Early Lesson in Letting Go

Susan Ashby Mergler December 26, 2014
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As I stare down at the quiet innocence of my five year old daughter, her eyes so full of anticipation, I am keenly aware of a gnawing anxiety that almost completely takes away my breath. After reassuring her that tomorrow will be filled with nothing short of excitement and fun, I gently tuck her into bed. Yet throughout this tender moment, I feel as if I am watching from afar. My firstborn has reached yet another milestone. In what feels like a moment’s time, my vivacious five-year old has turned into a kindergartner.

I desperately yearn to freeze time at this particular moment, but I know that tomorrow will dawn all too quickly and she will finally leave the security of my ever-watchful eyes and board that big yellow school bus. This bus isn’t just transporting her to a new school, but it is carrying my small daughter into the beginning of what is ultimately to commence the unraveling of the proverbial apron strings. Is she ready to take such a gigantic leap into life? Most certainly she is and while she may seem a little apprehensive tonight, I also know that she is immensely excited about what must await her once she steps onto the bus’s platform.

I have no doubts that she will make new friends in a brand new environment. Throughout these early years she has been no stranger to ambiguity and neither have I. Having endured many of her father’s job transfers, she has had to deal with new situations for almost all of her short five and a half years of life. New neighborhoods, new homes, and even new states have become part of an exciting yet tearful, yearly ritual for us all.

Yet, it won’t be my brave little kindergartner’s eyes brimming with tears and anticipation tomorrow. It will be mine as a million thoughts and hopes and dreams whirl through my head like the brisk arrival of the autumn wind. What will she become as she matures from a wide-eyed school girl into a young lady? Will the world be kind to her? And most importantly, will she hold onto the many values and lessons that her father and I want so desperately to instill in her? We yearn to protect her, assure her happiness, and guide her through childhood. But I know that in reality, the best we can hope for must be sealed with a prayer and left in God’s caring hands.

After tonight, her days will no longer belong to just me. I must learn to share her with a big and often overwhelming world. I must trust her to make her own decisions. I must trust the many other people that will help to shape her life. I must trust God and continue my maternal journey in faith.

As the moon’s reflection looms larger and brighter in the bedroom window, visions of christening gowns and first curls tucked away for posterity come flowing back. They lead me to ponder how the big, brown eyes now searching mine for assurance are those same beautiful eyes that seemed to twinkle at me, her mother, just moments after birth. Years from now, I imagine those same eyes, gleaming at her father and me when she excitedly shows off her new engagement ring and how they will smile knowingly as she hands me her child to hold for the first time.

So, just for tonight, I can be a little melancholy over the many milestones that have already come and gone in her early childhood–her first smile, the first time she spoke “mommy”, her first steps into such a big and wondrous world. From this moment on, her world will be a little larger. My trust and faith in the unknown, both people and places, must become a little stronger. And while my heart becomes a little fuller with pride, I will watch my first “baby” walk out into the big, wide world with open eyes and arms, eager to experience all that it can offer.

Tomorrow morning, I will learn that with the relinquishment of control comes an overwhelming feeling of vulnerability. I will find myself uttering a hundred little prayers until she is returned safely back into my waiting arms. While she goes off to school to learn, I too must continue to learn through life’s experiences how to help her grow even more. As it is with most of life, I must learn to let go a little more each day to allow my daughter to gain the knowledge that she will need one day to fly on her own. But for now, I will continue to give her roots here in a loving family and remain sure of one thing–as the years unwind more rapidly with each passing landmark, a part of her will always remain my baby.   At this moment, I must find strength and comfort in the knowledge that my own mother still feels this very same way about me, her first born child.

As my little one’s eyes slowly close, I reflect on both the end of this chapter and the beginning of a brand new one in her life. I will soon realize that this is truly an exciting moment that will be repeated time and again as each new threshold is crossed in my daughter’s quest toward adulthood. Yet somehow, on this remarkable night, I cannot help but smile at the truth of the tune that softly plays from the pink doll held sweetly in her arms as she drifts off to sleep—“Thank heaven for little girls!”

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