We walk side by side in silence, feet moving in unison; quietly processing the reality of the day ahead.
“Mum, I’m nervous”.
“I know love”.
I squeeze her hand in a swift movement that would undoubtedly be felt by her but seen by nobody else. Not that there are many people out this early, as we make our way through our tiny village; down the lane and across the green to the bus stop. But still, she doesn’t want to be seen as weak; she doesn’t want to be seen as a little kid.
We reach the bus stop and look at each other. I hesitate, not wanting to get it wrong. I know I’m walking a delicate tightrope of nerves, uncertainty and hormones.
“Do you want me to hang on until you get on the bus?”
She silently nods as she glances up the road, waiting to hear the roar of the engine that would take her to her new school. We sit down on the wall together and I can hear all the questions flying around her beautiful mind. Seeing that there are no other school kids around yet, I gently rub her back to answer her biggest and most silent question –
Is it going to be okay?
Her tense shoulders drop a little in response to her mama’s touch and her face eases. And then, too soon, we see the bus tootling along the only road running in and out of the village, slowing down as it reaches the stone wall that has become our seat.
I havn’t said enough. I havn’t reminded her (again) that she has nothing to worry about. That she’ll smash this two day visit to her new secondary school. That she’ll make friends. That she’ll do herself proud and us even more so.
As she jumps off the wall I can’t move. Maybe I should have driven her there today. Maybe I should stop her getting on that bus; but other school kids have arrived now, as if appearing from nowhere. She’d not thank me for drawing attention to her. So instead I allow the distance to grow between us, me rooted to the spot and her walking towards the open doors of the bus. I call after her;
“I’ll be waiting for you when you get back – I’ll be here”.
As the words slide out my mouth I wonder if I’ve committed the cardinal sin and embarrassed her. But she turns around and smiles, giving a little nod. Then just as quickly, she turns back and climbs onto the bus along with the older kids.
I peel myself off the wall and slowly walk away from the bus stop; waiting for my daughter – the human that made me a mother, to overtake me. And she does. I anchor my arms down by my side so I can’t be tempted to wave.
The bus disappears around the corner and out of sight. My eyes sting and I swallow back the lump in my throat.
The nerves and the fear of something don’t stop you being ready for it. It just means you know it’s a big deal. It means you know it matters.
She’s ready for this. whether I am or not.
It’s time for this mama to trust that she’s done enough to prepare her child for this next adventure.
It’s time to stop holding on so tightly and let those beautiful wings start to spread.
It’s time for letting go and watching her start to fly.