Yesterday, you reached out for my hand,
Without even looking,
Sure that I would be there.

And for the first time,
Instead of stepping forward to reassure you,
I took the tiniest of steps away.

Your hand reached out,
But beneath it was air,
I waited, and watched, just out of reach.

You stood on the end of the playground slide,
Where you had climbed to survey the world,
Already planning your next escapade.

It was just a small gap
To reach the ground;
A tiny step.

Sometimes those are the trickiest.
But I had seen you step down
From this slide on your own.

You didn’t need my hand
To help you down.
Not anymore.

I waited to see if you would notice
That the support you counted on
With such certainty
That you didn’t even need to look,
Was gone.

You reached into the empty air,
But kept your eyes ahead.
Together, we hovered on that precipice.

Would you stop?
Would you leap?
Would you fall?

You nimbly stepped down,
Without giving me even a glance,
Unaware of the moment that had just passed.

I watched your back.
As you ran off, with wild, gleeful abandon,

I wish I could tell you
The love that it took
To step away instead of reaching out.

It goes against every impulse
In my body,
Even though my heart knows it is right.

There are so many things now
That you can do on your own,
You just need to remember it.

It’s a joy to watch you learn
To trust your own strength,
Even if it means my own hand is left empty.

For how can you ever truly adventure
If you are too scared
To let me go?

Because I won’t always be there
To steady your gait
Or help you down from the high places
I know you will reach.

But just because you feel air
Beneath your unsteady hand
Does not mean you are alone.

I’m ready to catch you if you stumble,
And cheer you on with every try.
For now. For always.

Whether you look for me or not,
I will always be right beside you,
Just a bit out of sight.

I am only a tiny step away.

Note: I cried writing this. It’s so hard to find the way to put into words the love we feel for our children. It’s so deep, and so powerful. Somehow it’s the little moments that feel like they matter most of all.