The threshold

She’s wearing her father’s hoodie, making her look smaller than she is. She sits down next to me on the couch, nestling herself into my arms. I’m soaking up her scent and savoring the moment. At ten years old we’re on the threshold to young adulthood and I’m not ready for it.

Only five years ago she started Kindergarten in a country she didn’t know and didn’t speak the language of. After taking her to school by car a couple of days, she decided she was ready to take the bus. She was ready, I wasn’t. My little girl, barely speaking English, took the bus. I was so proud, and it was hard to let her go. But I did, and I grew into it.

Now we’re at the last year of Elementary school. The last ten years went by in the blink of eye. I still remember when she was born, and people would tell me to enjoy it because they grow up so fast. It didn’t hit home with me then, I just couldn’t picture it. Fast forward ten years, I totally get it now.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have paid more attention and wether I savored enough of the moments she was young. I’ve decided to be as mindful as I can from now on. There is only so much time before she starts living her own life. Every year she will become more independent, and that’s good. And it’s also hard to let her go. My little girl that I want to protect and take care of. But things must change. It’s good change, it’s part of life. I want her to explore the world, find her way, her identity, make mistakes and learn from it, fall down and get up, learn to handle life, knowing we are still there, and she can take our hand any time she needs it. Preparing her for the moment that she will fly solo.

I know I will grow into this too. Again she will be ready before I am, and it will take longer than when she was in Kindergarten, but I’ll get there. The change is bigger, the stakes are higher. As a parent you just want to make sure your child is happy and doing well, but after passing the threshold, our influence will (and has to) get smaller and smaller. We can’t protect them anymore the way we would like to. We will have to trust that we did a good job raising them and we will have to trust our children to make wise choices, to learn from their mistakes and ask for help before things get out of control. And we also know that kids are vulnerable, especially at this age.

I hug her a little tighter, deeply breathe in her scent again and etch this moment in my memory. We’re on the threshold, but not today. Today, I keep the door shut and my little girl close to me.