As soon as your baby bursts into the world they teach you as their parent all about how to help your child grow.
You mark a chart with feeding frequency and duration while in the hospital to ensure they are being fed adequately. And then you go home and you feed them around the clock. On demand or by a schedule. All with the hopes of optimal growth and development. I can still practically feel the drain of marathon nursing sessions until my boobs were raw and I was sucked dry of energy. There were days I was scared and convinced he was starving. Each visit and weight check at the Pediatrician rested my concerned mind. But it was worth it- because my baby was growing, filling out.
Little round wrists and dimpled hands were the mark of a job well done. When it came to parenting- I didn't always know if I was doing the right thing, but I knew I was helping them grow.
And then we started solids. Introducing foods just as the books and my doctors recommended- single grain cereal, sweet potatoes, applesauce. For at least an ENTIRE WEEK I made baby food from organic produce. And it was too much work so instead I bought store bought and felt guilty. He grew just the same.
And boy did my baby grow. So fast I couldn't keep up. He filled out. He grew. He got longer. He crawled. It was amazing to watch their little bodies and minds that seemed to just know what to do next. It was impossible to comprehend. God, DNA, my blood, oxygen and genetics made this incredible little creature here in my arms, staring into my eyes, making to believe it was impossible that a moment existed before he came into the world.
He grew and grew and grew. He started to walk. A little drunken sailor walk that made me squeal and clap and jump up and down. He grew so good, my boy. Too fast really. I finally understood why the little old ladies would stare into my eyes and beg me to enjoy every little moment. So I tried, I really did. Even the awful ones were somehow better than the days before he was around.
And then he grew and he grew some more. His waddle walk turned almost instantly into a run. And then a jump and a climb too. He now had favorite foods- spaghetti and mac and cheese. It was so fun to watch him explore and play and eat and grow.He outgrew his clothes and shoes at a rapid pace. Every time his growth was charted and plotted at the pediatrician's office, I felt so relieved. So proud. Growing this little human was the most important job I ever had.
And now my first little baby is six years old. I've had my ups and our downs, but deep inside I've always felt equipped to do what's right to help him grow.
But there is one thing I still can't seem to grasp. Something that pains me and keeps me up some nights-- I just don't know how to let go. I'm just not cut out for it. I can't breathe just thinking about it.
Last week my six year old boy started First Grade. I still feel a little lost. I'm angry that it's not getting easier as the years go by. I don't get how I'm supposed to give this moving, breathing, incredible shiny part of my soul away every single day six hours a day.
And although I know I have to let go, I really have absolutely no idea how. I don't know what it looks like. The baby books never mentioned it. There's no prescribed ointment or pill given at the doctor that will help me detach. It feels like lost and homesick and lovesick and sad. I'm envious of the parents who are nothing but joyful at the beginning of each school year.
I always always want what's best for him. How can what is best sometimes hurt so much?
For now I can't deny or control my feelings so I feel them. Entertain the uncomfortable bastards. I can control my behavior. I will not not rent a car and wear a wig and drive by his school at recess eleventy-hundred times a day.
I think parenthood is a mixture of holding on and letting go. Teaching them to grow and letting them grow all on their own then. Of doing and letting them do. Teaching them- and learning from them. It's crazy- the gauntlet of feelings we feel every day. Fear, joy, anger, frustration, pain, joy so big it flies out or your heart and can make you cry. The funny thing is- watching him grow and adapt and let go of me, is helping to show me the way.