The sweet sound of your baby’s cry pierces the air inside the delivery room. He is laid upon your chest, and as you gaze down at his delicate features you think to yourself, “I will never let you go.”

All too soon, your babe is taken from your arms to be examined, weighed, and measured. And in that moment, you learn your first lesson of motherhood:

Letting go is never easy, but sometimes it must be done.

Your 11-month-old pulls himself up on the coffee table. You reach out to steady his wobbly body, catching him before he crashes to the floor. But you know in order to learn to walk, he must take those first steps on his own. So you drop your hands to your sides and resist the urge to grab him when his little hand lifts away from the table.

Letting go is never easy, but sometimes it must be done.

Your toddler is well past middle-of-the-night feedings and being rocked to sleep. He now fills up most of your lap when you read him a story, and you notice that his hands aren’t quite as chubby as they used to be. You long ago traded the infant carrier for a regular car seat. As you pack up the last of the baby items and take apart the crib to make room for a big boy bed, you are flooded with emotion. Your heart grieves as this stage of motherhood comes to an end.

Letting go is never easy, but sometimes it must be done.

Your preschooler looks up at you with big eyes and grabs your leg as you walk into his new classroom for the first time. Even though you have been looking forward to finally having a few hours to yourself, your mind can’t comprehend how you have arrived at this place so soon. You give him an extra-long hug and then linger a few moments at the door, fighting to hold back the tears.

Letting go is never easy, but sometimes it must be done.

Your 5-year-old tugs at his backpack as he walks down the hallway toward his kindergarten classroom. He has been talking about this moment for weeks. You feel a little anxious as he takes these first steps into a world full of so many unknowns. But you greet his enthusiasm with a smile and say, “I’m so excited for you, buddy!”  

Letting go is never easy, but sometimes it must be done.

Your 11-year-old no longer wants to hug goodbye when you drop him off at school. You reach for his hand before he hops out of the car, but he pulls away. You know this is all a natural part of growing up–his evolving independence and these subtle shifts in your relationship. You still see glimpses of your little boy, but they have become few and far between.

Letting go is never easy, but sometimes it must be done.

Your 16-year-old asks for the car keys and your mind flashes back to a small boy covered in dirt, racing matchbox cars on the sidewalk and shouting, “Look how fast my cars are going, Mama!” You long for the days of matchbox cars as your teenager gives you a quick wave and drives out of sight.

Letting go is never easy, but sometimes it must be done.

Your 18-year-old stands in front of the mirror adjusting his graduation cap. You gaze over at him and can’t believe a man now stands where your little boy once stood. You close your eyes and sigh as you remember the moment he was first laid on your chest—how time stood still as your life changed forever. You wish time would stand still now as you prepare to let go once again.

It is in this act of letting go, over and over, that you have given your child a wonderful gift—a chance to grow his own set of wings.

And as you watch him take off on his next grand adventure, you will remember;

Letting go is never easy, but sometimes it must be done.

You may also like:

Dear Teenagers, Be Patient While I Let Go

Learning to Let Go and Let God

I Hold You, Baby, So You’ll Know It’s Okay to Let Go

Mary Ann Blair

Mary Ann Blair is a stay-at-home mom living in the Pacific Northwest with her two little gentlemen and hubs. She loves connecting with other parents who like to keep it real! Her work has been published on Her View From Home, Motherly, A Fine Parent, Perfection Pending, That’s Inappropriate, Pregnant Chicken, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Red Tricycle and in Chicken Soup For the Soul. She can be found at maryannblair.com or on Facebook at Miracles in the Mess