Thursday, 20 February 2014
So no big deal but my 8 year old walked home from school by himself today.
Except it feels like a big deal. It feels really momentous and I feel equal parts proud and sad. Well maybe not that equal. A little bit proud. A bit more sad.
We have only ever walked to and from school so he knows the one block route well, having walked it twice a day for the best part of 4 years now. He's been campaigning to make the trip unaccompanied for some time but Stefan, my youngest is not ready for that and I'm not ready for Nathan to be responsible for him yet. So we negotiated that on the days that Stefan has a class after school, Nathan could walk home on his own. We talked about starting slow, with me meeting him at the first corner for a couple of times, then extending it to the next corner for a couple of times and then finally to make the trip home. I told him it was best for him to ease into it until he was comfortable. But I know that you know that it was me who needed time to get comfortable.
You see the thing is, I've always been hell-bent on raising independent kids. I believe it is right and I believe it is doing them a disservice to not. So I am proud that we're at this milestone. I am. Really. It's just that the downside to raising independent kids is that with independence comes a diminished need for me. We all know that day will come, but already?? My baby boy used to need me to lay down with him at night before he went to sleep. He used to instinctively reach for my hand wherever we walked. I used to be his world and he would randomly wrap his little arms around my neck and plant big, wet, open-mouth kisses on my cheeks... just because.
So you can imagine how my heart reacted when just before I was about to leave to meet him at our agreed corner that the door bell rang and there was my baby boy who simultaneously looked so small and so grown up all at once. "Hi Mum" he says BEAMING. "You don't need to meet me at the corner Mum, I can do it all on my own".
And as I internally dropped to my knees and wailed in pain, I beamed back and hugged him SUPER tight and said "I know you can".
Oh FFS, you know what? I'm crying [just a little bit] as I write this so I guess I'm a lot more sad than I thought. As much as I've been gearing up for this exact development, it's hard to let go. So tonight, as I tucked him into bed and he asked me to whisper something in his ear before he went to sleep I whispered "I'm so proud of you Nathan. You're such a big, grown-up boy and you really proved how responsible you can be to me today. But I'm a little bit sad too because you're not my baby anymore."
And he smiled such a proud and pure smile and wrapped his arms around my neck, pulling me close and whispered in my ear "I'll always be your baby Mum".
And my heart exploded.