Fourteen years ago I held him in the hospital, looking down as his beautiful face asleep on my chest. I held him with my cheek against the top of his head and felt his pulse. I never wanted to put him down. I wanted to hold him close to me forever. It was a bittersweet time. Fourteen years ago, he was still “baby” because I hadn’t decided on a name yet. To decide on a name was the beginning of letting go.
But I did let go, and then pulled him close again, and then let him go, and pulled him close. But isn’t that what parenting is all about? My baby boy turned 14 this Sunday, and is now taller than me. In some ways he is still very much that little baby I held against my chest. He is tender and vulnerable, the gentle shape of his face remains the same. And yet at the same time I struck by the young man he has become. He is bright, funny, kind and he makes me smile.
I have never felt sad on those landmark days, like the first day of school, or first trip away from me. I know that he can do whatever he sets his mind to. I know my belief in him has led to his belief in himself. I know that each step he takes on his own makes him stronger. But most of all, I know that letting him go inevitably leads to pulling him close again.