By Julie Davidson
A new study determined that for safety reasons it was better to let kids go down slides alone. Holding a child on your lap might present a certain amount of danger. That got me thinking about how sometimes we have to let them go. Even if we aren’t ready.
The first time this happened to me was just minutes after my oldest son was born. His eyes were barely open. He still had that greasy-duck-feather look, and the nurses said they had to take him for testing. I was laid out on the delivery table with half my body still numb from whatever it is they give you before a C-section and unable to move, let alone speak in coherent sentences. And now they were taking my little guy away? But I carried him for so long, and he just got here!
The next time I had to let go was the first time we had to get a babysitter. I had been practically attached at the hip with the baby for eight months, and it was time to go out with friends for a night of fun. I knew that I needed to get out, but the thought of leaving the baby with someone else made my stomach turn. In the days leading up to that night, my mind was swirling with scenarios. What if the baby thought I left him and wouldn’t return? What if the babysitter falls asleep and doesn’t hear the baby cry? If she does hear his cry, will she know the difference between the cry for food and the one for a diaper change?
So it shouldn’t have surprised me that after being at home for four years starting my kids in daycare would get me worked up. Each morning for the first two months I dropped them off, my youngest son would wiggle out of the arms of his teacher and run toward me crying, with his arms outstretched toward me. Each time I would wait outside his room, leaning against the wall until he stopped. And each time he would stop—after two minutes. It was gut wrenching, and for a while I convinced myself that my sons would irreparably be harmed as I returned to work outside the home.
I was 20 years old when I had my wisdom teeth pulled. When they called my name, my mother got up to go with me, but they said she would need to wait in the lobby. There was a look of brief disappointment on her face as she realized she couldn’t be right there for me. She died nine months later. Since then I haven’t been a big fan of letting go. Yes, I’ll do my best to give my sons their space and room to grow. But as long as I’m able, I’m meeting them at the bottom of the slide.