There is something holy in that liminal moment of letting go. I wonder if anyone realised what a profound and daring act they participated in as they let go of their child's hand, seeing him or her off to attend their first day at school. This is especially true for the parents of the Grade 1's. Do they realise that this is the day which they will talk about in coming years when they say "I remember your first day at school…". This is the moment that these young children will recall as when they entered 'big school'.
The tears and the fears, the joy and excitement should not be taken lightly. This is a pivotal moment, one that no one is ready for. As parents, we reach these moments all too soon. We wonder whether we did all the necessary things to prepare our children for this, their next phase of life. As I clasp my children's hands, a final word of advice is offered, as if it will make any difference. The bell rings and I have to let go…
The repetitive nature of this 'letting go' is traumatising enough – letting go to go to school…letting go to have fun with friends…letting go when you hear: "Dad, mom, if you don't mind, don't walk with me to class…". Of course I mind!...but I have to let go and trust that you are ready. You are strong…you are brave…you are confident…I need to believe that you can do this, and you can!
My role as parent is changing. I will always be a parent, but how I am a parent is evolving. I suppose that I am no longer the primary voice, the number one friend, the one who sets the agenda and who makes all the decisions. I realise that you can dress yourself, dish up for yourself, and arrange your bedroom like you want it… I am, in a different way, and will always be your loving safety net.
I suppose it is hard for me to let go, because I know that in your eagerness, you will make mistakes and get hurt. You will also hurt others and you will hurt us. As much as I would like to shield you from the mistakes we made in our youth, letting go also means allowing you to make your own mistakes and to learn from these. Please remember my words: It is clever to learn from your own mistakes; it is wise to learn from the mistakes of others.
I don't want to let go, but I must, for your sake and for ours.
It is for these reasons that I do not underestimate the importance of this moment, but I treat it with respect, as a sacred moment, appreciating it for what it is: you are growing up and we have the tremendous privilege of being part of this process.