Two of the neighborhood girls zoomed past me on their bikes with a cheery, “God morgon!” Good morning! from both of them. Their mother followed behind a solid distance away at a relaxed pace. No pace could keep up with those excited children riding their bikes.
“They don’t need you anymore,” I told her with a smile on my face. She proudly replied, “Nope! I’m only here to carry the backpacks.”
For the past few weeks, I have been watching my neighbor run behind her daughter’s bike holding onto the long broomstick handle jammed into the bike’s frame to help her daughter balance as she pedaled. The fruits of their efforts had ripened, and now both of her daughters were zooming along independently. They were—on a small scale—launched into the world.
And that’s the entire point of parenting. We put in years of hard work, effort, and energy to send out these self-sufficient children to positively contribute to our world. We parent, we love, and ultimately, we launch.
We can’t reconcile this shift in our parental role when we are cuddling our newborns on our chests. Those are the moments that last a small eternity. In those moments, we can’t imagine how these tiny humans will become young adults. It is too distant a notion to consider, and so we don’t give it a second thought.
Perhaps that is why it is jarringly bittersweet when it happens. We weren’t expecting the fastball, low and in.
All too soon, we find ourselves walking down the street with our children riding out of reach, wishing we would’ve had more time before getting to this point. There’s never enough time to convey all of the things we want them to know about the world. We can’t possibly teach them everything before the first launch. The rest they will have to learn on their own.
And we will launch them again and again until they are finally out the door starting their adult lives.
They don’t need us to hold onto the back of their bikes anymore. Now, they need us to let go to stay upright.
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