When letting go doesn't come easily

Parenting has proven to be an exercise in learning to let go one step at a time. I've tried to handle it with grace, but as my daughter prepares for kindergarten this fall and I find myself struggling more than I anticipated, her little girl wisdom has given me hope.

A conversation in the dark

There’s something magical about lying in bed in the stillness of the evening that helps to loosen the words that we bury during the daytime.

There in the semi-darkness, as we closed out the day yesterday, I held my daughter’s 5-year-old hand in mine and I asked her, “How do you feel about starting kindergarten this fall?” hoping her answer would differ from mine.

Katie’s fingers began to flutter before her words even came. “So excited!” she replied without hesitation.

And with all my heart, I wished I could match her enthusiasm.

“What are you most looking forward to?” I asked, hoping she would quickly list something that would make the tightness in my chest give way.

“I’m excited to make new friends, play on that really big slide on the playground and learn French!”

My heart leaped a bit at the thought of her learning French, a language that I love. I was immediately transported back to my own childhood, when I spent hours in my grandmother’s kitchen, listening to her alternately speak and sing in French.

Our last big step was accepting the big girl bed >>

The gift of words

She quickly added, “Mommy, will you teach me some French words? How do you count?”

I haven’t spoken French since college, but there in the stillness of her bed, I closed my eyes and the numbers came back — they slid right off my tongue and floated through the air to her eager ears.

“Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq… ” I counted.

Once we finished with counting and the alphabet, eager for more, she moved on to animals and colors and my memory got a workout as I dug deep to unearth my college-level French.

Her curiosity and eagerness pulled me from my own sadness, into her world… a world of new adventures to conquer and experiences to live to their fullest.

I’ve been seeing kindergarten as an end… the end to our days together, to the freedom to spend our moments however we choose.

Read our 10 reasons to appreciate the time you have with your kids >>

A shift in perspective

With numbers, letters, colors and a handful of animals under her belt, Katie grew still and I wondered where her thoughts had taken her.

She broke the silence with, "How do I say 'I love you'?"

I’ve been focused on the ways in which kindergarten will rob us of the things that I hold so dear, but laying there in the dark, my 5-year-old helped me to begin to see that the world will be opening to her in a way that I haven’t been able to appreciate.

She broke the silence with, “How do I say ‘I love you’?”

And in that moment, I could feel that tightness that I’ve been carrying in my chest ease as my heart expanded.

“Je t'aime, my sweet girl.”

And merci beaucoup… a million times over.

More on learning to let go

Monday Mom challenge: Let go a little. Or a lot.
Practicing Gratitude: Letting your children explore
Nurturing independence at any age


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Comments on "Practicing Gratitude: Facing kindergarten"

Tonya July 16, 2012 | 4:09 PM

Oh my heart, you were right, this is one of your best gratitude posts. No matter what language, you, my friend are an amazing woman, mother and friend. xoxo

Terry July 10, 2012 | 7:51 AM

...and then you do have an opportunity to repeat yourself when those grandchildren come along and it might even be a little more difficult as you do realize the fleetingness of it all. The flip side is the wonder of world discovery through new growths that you are currently witnessing. Thanks for the opportunity to appreciate it all over again, the flashback of bedtime rituals where I learned more than I ever could anywhere else was a phenomena in and of itself. Great article!

Laura July 09, 2012 | 11:33 PM

Le sigh. :) It's good to know I'm not alone. My little guy starts K in the fall. He wasn't even finished with his preschool graduation day when he proudly announced, "I'm in Kindergarden now! When do I start?" But I'm so glad it's so positive and easy for him. Even if it leaves me crying come September...

Julie July 09, 2012 | 10:13 AM

So true! Motherhood is an ongoing process of letting go... it doesn't get easier as they get older. But a job well done creates a well-rounded citizen of earth who contributes to society in a positive way. And, hopefully for all your pains, grandchildren. :)

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