"It's time I set you free," I blurted out as I was driving my son to his cub scout meeting. He was sitting next to me and I could see the sideways glance he often gives me when I suddenly break out in my best running man when I hear 80's music.
"It's time I let you go sweetheart, I trust you." He continued to look at me like I was some mad woman and I could tell he had no idea what I was about to say.
"Sweetie, it's time I trust you: Remember no drugs, don't put anything around your neck that can choke you, look both ways when you cross the street, don't talk to strangers, don't go home with strangers, adults don't need help, don't take candy from strangers, don't eat anything that you don't know what it is, don't get in a car with a stranger, don't play on construction sites, and don't play in the street, " this was all I could remember in one breathe.
I was not sure why the realization had tidal waved me at that very moment, but I knew if I didn’t get it all out at once that my courage would disappear and I would go back to being a helicopter mama.
I heard him release a deep sigh and he placed his hand over mine as I was shifting gears.
"Mom, I won't, I remember everything, don't worry. I know how to be safe."
And just like that I became "mom". One car drive and 10 years and I had graduated to the level of mom.
I became his mom and he became my little boy who was growing up and ready to take on the world. It was at that moment that I realized it wasn't him that I trusted. It was me.
Up until this point, I had lived in fear and dread. Fear that I wouldn’t be able to protect him from all the horrible things in the world and dreading the day he thought he didn’t need me anymore.
It wasn’t like I wanted him to be dependent on me forever, it was more like what do I do now. What was my role in this new phase of parenting? Where do I fit in his life?
And I knew in my heart the answer to this question.
I was letting go of the string that I held tight for so many years. The lifeline that connected us from the moment he was created.
I let go and now, I had the joy of watching him rise, higher and higher into the world. I knew he would never come back to me. I knew he was never mine to begin with, but it didn’t hurt any less.
I could have been sad, but I wasn't. I was excited and filled with so much love and I could hardly wait to see where the winds of life would take him. He would fly high and far, but there would never be more than a heartbeat of distance between us.
“You know, honey, I am always here if you need me.”
“I know mom, don’t worry, I’m only 10.”