Letting Go

“I love you! Bye bye!”

And with that, she was too engrossed in arts and crafts to give much notice to our leaving. I spied a glimpse of her through the window as we crossed the parking lot: earnest, happy, comfortable.

As far as first days of school go, it was a success. (She’s not quite two so it’s a daycare at a school, but she likes calling it school and feeling like a big kid.)

There is so much I am excited for her to learn. Now, she’s known all her colors, numbers, and letters for a really long time, is good with self-care, and says “please,” “thank you,” and “bless you” when people sneeze. Those aren’t the kinds of lessons that matter to me right now. Instead, I am eager for her to socialize. To learn to share, and to cultivate an awareness of others and their needs in relation to her needs and her wants. To learn how to situate herself and her personality within a group of peers, and to remain confident in her ability to play and discover independently, too. I am excited to see how she grows and changes from these oh-so-important life lessons.

It’s a big change for our family, out-of-home care, and we love the place—dedicated staff, part-time hours that meet our needs, and wonderful activities and opportunities. It’s a good change, and she is thriving there, so it is time to give her the space to do that. But it represents the beginning of so much: the little world she has known so far is getting bigger, and for the first time, people beyond our relatives and our close friends will have direct influence on her. This is all natural and normal, but letting go…it is not easy.

I tend to think in semesters, an inevitable byproduct of twenty-one years of schooling and now several years teaching in universities. September always feels more like a new year than January 1 does, so it is fitting that so many things are transitioning right now.

The final copy edits are done on my book, which is now with the typesetter. I should see proof pages soon. Obviously I feel an enormous sense of relief to be at this stage, but it’s also unsettling. Maybe this is a normal part of writing, but right now, I am overwhelmed by the idea that this is final, there is nothing more I can add or change. Right now, as it turns from a marked-up manuscript into an actual book, I am plagued with what isn’t there, the themes and ideas that I didn’t delve into. Scope is incredibly hard to manage, and while intellectually I know I can’t include everything that’s ever interested me or is somewhat related to my topic or I’ll have a thousand pages, I can’t quite silence the little voice that asks, “What about…?”

I tell myself I’ve done the best I can, I’ve put in the hours and the revisions and asked the right questions and now it is out of my hands. Soon these pages will be out in the wide world, and so many more eyes will see them beyond the tight little circle of readers and editors I’ve had. The words will have to stand on their own, and it is time to give them the space to do that.

It is normal, it is natural, it is the progression of things.

But when pieces of your heart are out there, the letting go? It is not easy.

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