She walked away today.
Shoulders hunched to her ears and head down low, and still, she walked.
Her blue raincoat, too short for her long arms, took the brunt of the storm. But rather than running to escape the downpour, she moved slowly.
This morning I pushed. Pushed her to believe in herself and walk it alone, as I do most days. Only this time, it didn’t backfire.
This time, for the first time in two years, it worked.
And from the driver’s seat, I watched my girl exit the backseat on her very own, throw her backpack over her shoulders and approach the school’s entry doors. Very slowly.
And suddenly she seemed so small again, amidst the crowds of tall gangly teenagers, with her ill fitting coat and her socks pulled over her pants to her knees, as she prefers. But yet to me, she was huge, too, tackling her anxiety head on. Proving to herself she could.
And it validated all my efforts thus far, where I hopped between feelings of optimism, complacency and doubt about whether we would ever actually get here.
She didn’t look back for me, and yet I watched for her to. And through the rain motivated those around her to move faster, she calculated each small step.
And then my mind got to racing again, wondering, as I do daily if I’m doing this right. I struggle with knowing when to push, and when to let go. I worry constantly about how she will remember this stage of her childhood- will she feel I pushed too hard, or not enough?
When I do push, like I did today, it is motivated by wanting her to escape that hurt. When I let go it’s because I know that her vulnerability and sensitivity is a piece of who she is. And I need her to know I can accept that- but I’m learning how.
I hope she will know my mistakes along the way are proof I try.
Though more often than not both of us are left feeling frustrated by ourselves in these scenarios. I share my time in the house of regret reflecting upon a poor choice of words, or wondering who I served by biting my tongue.
But she walked away today, and escaped the rain. And I’m damn proud of her for trying.
Because the trying part is the part I’ll try to remember.
I know she was scared and those 20 steps felt big. So I’ve been smiling for her and because of her, ever since.