that backward step

August 9th, 2011

I remember her voice, her self-introduction, so needless and formal, on the answering machine. “Karen, this is your Mom.” I listened quickly, so I wouldn’t hear what I was hearing. How long had she been announcing herself to me that way? All along? Not to disturb, not to impose, not to assume any rank or power in my all-together independent world? Mother to mother, I could recognize something now in the subtle way she stepped back and let go, even on an answering machine. Just love. — Momma Zen

On Friday my daughter turns 12. These are the days of the backward step. I do a lot of stepping back — out of her way, off of her back, to the other side of a newly closed door — but it’s still not enough. Give me a little more time, baby, to learn to let you go.

Today someone said to me, “It seems like only yesterday.”

“Not really,” I said. “It seems like forever.”


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  1. I love this entry.

    My eldest daughter is growing up and it hit me square in the face a couple of weeks ago. I wrote a blog about it yesterday, too.

    It is tough. I cannot imagine her to be 12. Or her sister. Or her other sister. Sigh….

    Thank you for your writing.

    Comment by Meghan — August 9, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

  2. Working with sixth graders sometimes feels like I’m taking a spin on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I know they really do want me to pay attention, to notice, even though they are giving that leave-me-alone vibe. Each child is so unique. Making positive connections with each student is both challenging and rewarding. Occasionally I have my seat belt on, safety bar locked and hands in the air! Georgia is one fortunate girl. Happy Birthday!

    Comment by Jane — August 9, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

  3. I keep remembering something my nephew said four years ago, when he was five: “Backward is the new forward.” These are definitely those days.

    Comment by Jena — August 10, 2011 @ 2:23 am

  4. Very tenuous business ‘letting go’ must be. The fact that some people are aware of the process at all, makes for a comforting outcome. I don’t envy you one little bit! I guess it’s a balancing act of sorts.

    Comment by Jim Cuvelier — August 10, 2011 @ 4:40 am

  5. Oh yes. My sweet boy will be 14 in a couple of weeks. He is shaving! I am lucky to spend time around my grand niece who is 7 months old. I cannot see her without seeing my son at that age. It’s both a lovely reminder of his babyhood and a shocking realization–that boy is long gone. He is still a sweet, cuddly soul and I try to soak up every minute of it. I hear that Sting song, “If you love somebody, set them free,” and think Wow. Easier said than done!

    Comment by Robin — August 10, 2011 @ 9:02 am

  6. This has been a theme in my life over the last 3 years. I can lose my breath on when I recognize the normal pregression of the letting go. It’s good, but a intense experience. Love to you as you learn how to let go-little by little.

    Comment by brigid — August 10, 2011 @ 9:56 am

  7. Oh yes…the back step. And the art of doing it gracefully!
    – it does get easier with practice.

    Comment by Kara — August 10, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  8. Comment by denise — August 11, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  9. happy birthday to georgia, and happy mother’s day to you. yes, a little more time…and yes, always love.

    Comment by melissa — August 12, 2011 @ 4:03 am

  10. I always wanted to be a mother. I remember daydreaming about it when I was a little girl. I never knew how much “letting go” was involved. It’s certainly a challenge for me. Happy Birthday to your daughter! 🙂

    Comment by Kristal — August 14, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

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