I don’t remember how old I was.
I do remember the internal struggle between a little girl who was growing up and a bigger girl who intrinsically knew that growing up also meant growing away.
I battled with my decision for days. Part of me wanted to hold on, part of me wanted to let go. None of me wanted to hurt my mom’s feelings and I knew that this would.
Letting go of our children is never easy, but there comes a time in every child's life that they must grow up and away.
We had this thing we did. It started when I was tiny and we did it every night when she tucked me in.
“Hug me like I hug you.”
Sometimes the hug was normal, sometimes it followed some strange order of arm movements that the other hugger had to get just right.
“Kiss me like I kiss you.”
Again, sometimes it was a simple peck on the cheek, sometimes a series of kisses done in a particular order that had to be carefully replicated.
We’d done this for years. Then, at some point, I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was growing up. I was growing away. But how do you tell your mom that?
It weighed on me for days until, finally, one night as she tucked me in, I bared my heart. It hurt, that confession. Partly because it was the closing of a chapter, partly because I knew it would hurt her.
She took it well. She understood. I don’t know if she cried later. I think she probably did.
Last week my son told me that his friends teased him because of the notes I put in his lunchbox. I said I would stop writing them if he wanted me to.
He told me I could continue, but I could see the struggle in his eyes; the struggle between not wanting to hurt my feelings and becoming more independent.
We came up with a solution to the note problem that satisfies us both for now, but I know what’s coming.
Maybe it’ll be the lunchbox notes, maybe it’ll be our bedtime cuddles, maybe it’ll be something else entirely. He’ll struggle for days between hurting my feelings and being true to what he is meant to do: Grow up and away.
Until finally, he’ll bare his heart. And I will take it well. I’ll understand.
But I will cry later. Oh, how I’ll cry.
(Editor's note: This article was originally published on Oh Honestly. It has been reprinted here with permission. Lauren Cormier is the writer behind the parenting website Oh, Honestly and the author of The Words Your Kids Need: The Value of Writing to Your Children and How to Do It With Ease. She lives with her husband and three children in central Maine.)