Well, that was fast. My oldest daughter’s freshman year of high school is in the books. By all measures, she rocked it. There were bumps, tears and lessons learned, a healthy dose of reality. But she’s coming through without any permanent scars, and, in fact, with some good grades, nice friends and happy memories.
Me … I feel like I’ve been hit by a yellow school bus, which Anna no longer rides because she’s long gone from elementary school. She’s skipped her way through junior high. The days of accompanying her on field trips to pumpkin farms seem like ancient history. So many milestones reached – from the first time she spit out baby food to her first date. What happened to my tiny bundle of Anna? How did we get here? You know where this is headed … Tears, stage left!
It’s all a part of The Slowing Letting Go.
This girl …
… is now this girl:
The Slow Letting Go starts early, from the day you first hug your child. Then each week, month, year, you watch them check another item off the list of “Things I have to do to fly the nest (and/or to get away from my family).” Having a teen has been a stark reminder of The Slow Letting Go, and it can sting. Also, it goes both ways. In the early years, I dropped off Anna at preschool and she cried as I walked away. My heartstrings were pretty taut. Now, at 15, she annoyingly (yet developmentally appropriately) pulls that moody teen card, making it easier for both of us to keep our distance.
On the other hand, in the early days of skipped naps and tantrums, I often wondered if I’d ever escape being tethered to toddlers. Back then, some days were very, very, very long. I thought The Slow Letting Go was … too slow. Now, with my busy teen starting off in high gear at high school (and a fabulous tween girl following closely behind), I want some deceleration. I feel panicked that suddenly and without warning, one day I’ll wake up and Anna will have her bags packed for college. She’ll be gone in a snap.
Speaking of snap, have you heard of Snapchat? I hadn’t until this year when Anna added it to her social media repertoire. Snapchat is an image messaging app. You take a picture or video, add a short message if you wish and send it to a friend. The catch is that the image disappears after a few short seconds. It’s gone in a snap. (The issues with this particular app for the teen set can be addressed by someone else in a different blog. Go at it!)
I’m a Facebook fan, I love Instagram, I’m an avid texter. But I’d never heard of Snapchat before my teen started using it. When she got her phone the summer after 5th grade, Instagram was all the rage for the young set. Facebook was (and is) for “old people”, in case you didn’t know. But the newest social media spot for teens seems to be Snapchat. Being the responsible (and hip) parent that I am, I climbed aboard and got a Snapchat account.
So I receive gems like these, moments in time from Anna’s world. (Anna tells me, “Mom, it’s a little creepy that you saved all these screenshots.” One day, she’ll get it.)
I’ll do whatever I have to do to stay connected and temper The Slow Letting Go. I’ll get a late start at work or skip exercising (darn) to sit with Anna on the front steps — sometimes in silence — while she waits for her ride in the morning. These few minutes have become immensely precious to me. I’ll go out of my way to drive her and her friends around to soak up those valued car conversations. I’ll sign up for Snapchat (full disclosure: I only have 10 friends on my account) and send bizarre headshots of myself to my teen. We’ll still walk the dog together, take family vacations, co-binge on Netflix series (Jane the Virgin is our latest obsession!), but those options are fleeting. I have to take advantage of other tools and learn to meet Anna on her terms. I employ all means necessary to soften the blow of the The Slow Letting Go.
Because, really, childhood is gone in a snap.