When did it happen? Was it after they laid you on my chest and you slid toward my cheek, slimy and covered in vernix, and I felt your warmth and smelled your wonder. And then they whisked you away to check you and make sure all your parts were working and I wanted to say, "No, not yet." But I didn't. I let go.
Or when I passed you over the half-door of the nursery to a grandmotherly figure who assured me you would be just fine and I glanced back over my shoulder as I walked away, wishing I could stay with you, just in case you cried. But I went to church, instead.
With each little accomplishment, like feeding yourself, or taking steps unassisted, or climbing out of your crib, you won small victories in your quest for independence and I took small steps toward my journey of letting go of you.
There were those Kodak moments for sure of you singing your first solo, getting on the school bus for the first time, and your first sleep-over at a friends that gave me practice at something I both celebrated and made me cry.
The stakes seemed even higher when I turned over the keys to the car, said good-bye to you on a date with a boy I didn't know, extended your curfew and stayed awake, praying in the night for your safety and that you would make wise choices.
When we loaded up a van from floor to ceiling and then carried all its contents up three flights of stairs into your first dorm room, and drove away, leaving you behind and returning to a house with an empty room, I felt the severing more profoundly than ever--a throb so deep and right that I couldn't argue with it; I just had to accept it.
I watched you as you met your bride at the head of the aisle, all grown up and handsome, marrying the girl you'd told me at the age of six you would marry some day because you were a family man--and I knew my task was, for the most part, complete.
And now, though you're on your own, living a full life, and working hard, you still return to me--sometimes when life is disappointing, or someone breaks your heart or you need a back rub, or you just need a mom. In those moments, I can feel confused because I want to hang on; to be indispensable. But I know I can't and I'm not.
All along the way and even now, motherhood has asked of me a very unnatural thing--to let go of you. Nothing about it has ever felt good and yet everything about it is. I look at you today, so accomplished and self-assured, and I see why.
You're really quite amazing.