I’ve been walking my teens to the bus stop.

Not all the way, because that would be mortifying for them. I walk them to the end of our block, and they turn right and I turn left.

Each morning I wake up, make the coffee and putter around the kitchen. The dog wants to go out, but I make him wait a few extra minutes, slowly putting on his harness and leash until my kids are ready to go catch the bus.

And when they are ready to walk out my door into their world, I am ready, too. Because I want that 90 seconds with my kids before they head to school. I need it.

I always feel like they are walking away from me lately, headed in a different direction.

They spend their days at school and sports practices and friends’ houses. And even when they are in my home, under my roof, they still aren’t always “here.” They are on their phones or studying in their rooms or getting ready to leave.

I used to think the pain I felt was natural. Their breaking away from me, the pain of letting go and of what’s to come. I know it is what’s supposed to happen, but the truth is, I just miss them.

So, I get to spend a few extra moments with them under the guise of walking my dog. Sometimes our short walk is filled with silence, the crunch of feet on frozen grass the only conversation. Sometimes it’s filled with affirmations and wishing luck on a big test.

And sometimes, when I’m very lucky, it’s filled with insight into a life I’m desperate to remain connected to.

This morning, while one of my teen daughters stayed home sick, I started my morning walk with her twin sister. We were only a few steps out of our garage when she grabbed my arm. “Mom, look.”

She reached around into her backpack to grab her phone. “Isn’t it beautiful? I hate getting up early, but some of the sunrises are awesome.”

She snapped some photos and excitedly talked about one day living near a beach and maybe taking a photography class this summer and perhaps she and I could take a trip somewhere so she could practice.

And in a flash, our short walk was done. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and ruffled our dog’s head and she was gone with a quick “I love you.”

As I watched her narrow frame weighted down with a backpack full of responsibilities walk away from me this morning, it was the first time I felt like she wasn’t leaving me, that she wasn’t desperate to unhinge herself from my grasp; instead, she was walking toward something beautiful, the sunrise illuminating the next wonderful phase of her life.

And I didn’t feel as sad letting her go.

I was excited for what’s to come for her, eager to see how her life will unfold even though I know I won’t always be a part of it.

I watched her walk off into the morning light, full of brilliant shades of oranges and pinks breaking away from the darkness. I turned left, where the sun hadn’t yet touched the evening sky. The metaphor was not lost on me.

Life is born with a sunrise. I’m grateful I was able to share this one with her.

Originally published on Playdates on Fridays with Whitney Fleming

You may also like: 

She’s Slipping Through My Fingers

Struggling in the Space Between Mothering and Letting Go

I’m Constantly Scrambling to Keep Up With How Fast You’re Growing

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.