Learning to Let Go
Let's face it: A child's milestone can be a mother's meltdown. I was completely prepared for my son Sam's "separation" from me on his first day of preschool -- or so I thought. I'd coached him on what to expect, and I was ready to deal with any jitters he might have.
Yet as we stood on the sidewalk in front of the school, the sight of my not-quite-3-year-old son in his tiny sneakers and backpack filled me with such a sense of loss that my stomach wound itself into a knot. When Sam reached for his teacher's hand and dutifully walked down the stone path leading to the building, another mom joked knowingly, "He didn't even look back!"
And then it hit me: When you're a parent, you basically work yourself out of a job. Not only was my son going to grow apart from me, I was going to have to let go.
Of course, separation doesn't take place in a single moment. It's a process that unfolds over years. Fortunately (for us and for them), there's a natural order to our kids' development. Each bit of progress continually requires a child to separate or leave behind the familiar; our task is to offer support and encouragement. To help smooth the way for you and your child, here's what to expect:
Kimberly Brown Seely, a mom of two boys, also writes for Travel + Leisure and Town & Country.