The girls have been in school for four weeks now and something has become painfully clear... there is a huge shift in the parent/child relationship once kids hit middle school.
This is how parenting feels to me right now...
I picture myself standing in cement. My feet are firmly planted and cannot move. While my girls were younger, I held them in my arms or held their hand as they stood next to me. I have held little girl hands for nearly 12 years now...
As they hit Kindergarten (Wren is now in Kindergarten), they take a step away from me. I can still hold a hand, and it's not a strain to do so because they aren't so far away from me...just a step.
Then there's third grade, which Ella started this year. It feels like she has taken maybe three steps away from me. I can still hold her hand, but it's hard to do for a long time because she's nearly out of reach. Unless she reaches to hold my hand, it's nearly impossible to get ahold of hers.
And now there is middle school - Abby started 6th grade this fall at a 6-12 integrated school. It truly feels that she has taken so many steps away from me, that there is no way I could ever hold her hand unless she turned around and walked back to me.
This is not to say that she is "out of my reach" or that she doesn't need me or that I don't know what is going on in her life. And I am not necessarily lamenting...it is my job as a mother to grow them up to be independent and self-confident.
But it is this...an odd bittersweetness that has been driving me to sit with Wren in my lap more than I used to or to grab Ella's hand as we walk to the car.
I remember the last time I was able to visit my Granny Lil. It was Easter and I went with my mom. Her sisters were all there too. Grandma had a hard time remembering who I was on and off, but every time I sat next to her, she reached for my hand. And every time my mom or one of my aunts sat next to her, she reached for their hands. She passed away last fall.
So we start holding hands and we end holding hands.
And in the middle, we need more hand holding... even if they think they're too old for it.