When you bring up your child from the moment they are born and then you see them grow slowly over the months and years, you might tend of forget that at some point they will have to learn to be on their own without the parents watching out for them. And knowing when and how to let go can be a painful task for a parent who loves their child deeply.
I had this realization a few days back when we took our 14 m.o. daughter, who had recently been trying to hurry her walking (her version of running) while mantaining her balance, to a play area where there were lots of older kids running around, jumping, sliding, climbing, crawling under tunnels, etc. In the beginning, I had Nitara in my lap and kept searching for a quieter corner where I could let her walk and play. She went on a small slide a few times but then she also wanted to run around the big tree-house in the center.
I gave her my hand to hold and kept walking with her and everytime there was danger of another child bumping into her or if she felt like losing her balance, I would quickly pick her up and put her down somewhere safe. This went on for a while and my wife also joined us. It was soon clear that our daughter was discovering something new and just wanted to run around exploring the world on her own, but we were concerned about her safety because she was our tiny little girl and really small compared to the other children running around screaming and playing.
And then, we decided to let her go on her own and not make way for her. We would wait and see what happens. The moment we released her, she took off. First she ran in one direction and then switched and ran in another. She stop, start, change directions on her own and the whole time we watched with anxiety and waited for someone to bump into her and throw her down. It was a bit difficult to see our daughter be on her own in the midst of so many “threats” around her and not help her at all. But is was also a discovery for us because we realized that she was going to be ok without us. The kids running around that really scared us were actually trying not to bump into others, while Nitara was trying to assess the things around her as well. She felt free, we could see, without us directing her every move, she was free to see the world the way she wanted to, even if it meant making mistakes and falling and getting hurt. I learnt that it wasn’t important for me to prevent her from getting hurt, but to be there quickly if she did so that she felt we were there was for.
And so, for the first time, I felt I let my little angel go and be in this world on her own without me, even if it was only for a couple of minutes and that too in a very safe play area. I feel a lot of things when I think back of that moment. The realization that I am so protective of my darling daughter, the knowledge that she would probably be fine on her own and the sadness that one day I really would stop being there in her life at all. Happily, at least today was not that day.