Today is the first time I allowed Lia to go to and from school on her own. E-bike broke down a couple weeks ago, and with inflation, a three-week fare for both of us – despite walking my way back home to save pesos – costs about a month’s internet service. She’s been wanting to do the transition, too, for some time now. Tween things.
You would think it would be easy for me to say yes the first instance she asked. After all, I walked to and from school alone since preschool; first rode a jeepney on my own at eight. But turns out it’s different when it’s your kid. For years now, I have been open about the fact that I was sexually assaulted as a kid up until my teens – and all of the perpetrators were people I personally know. That’s my biggest fear, I suppose (and why genitalia and sex talk is encouraged at home).
But even without prior assault experience, I think these small acts of letting go are difficult for any parent. I stood on that street far longer than necessary, cheeks wet with tears. I watched the tricycle grew smaller until it was no longer in view, the way I watched but didn’t quite notice how quickly time turned from when I carried a newborn 24/7 and assisted her first steps to seeing her grow armpit hair and buying feminine pads.
My insides were in knots. This is my daughter I am releasing to the wild. “Run after that tricycle! Come with her. You won’t have her like this for very long,” it said. But that’s not really the way it goes, is it?
These moments are fleeting for us, but it is too for our kids. They only get that one liberating breath of a first tricycle ride without anyone handholding them. One moment to feel they can take life on independently. I do not always get to decide – nor should I. It’s her life, too. It’s not mine to seize. I can only bear witness to it. Trust that I raised her well enough to take care of herself. Trust the Universe will take care of her too, in place of me. I don’t always have to be the one. And it’s okay. It’s okay, even if letting go is so hard.