For the first one year, as you feed your child each morsel of food and watch her take her first tottering steps holding on to your hand as an anchor, you feel pain and love as you probably have never felt before. Your world expands, your heart contracts each time the two small hands unerringly turn to you in her sleep, each time she smiles her toothless smile at you, each time you soothe away her irrational fears, each time you read her favourite bedtime story and she falls asleep, curled up in your lap. You hold on to each fragment of memory, even as it passes by in a blur.
Then comes the day when she steps out, alone, for the first time, to her playschool or her daycare, leaving home and you. She cries, probably for a few days, but you cry longer. You agonise about each cough, each cold, each bruise, each bullied hurt, each imagined injury, each moment of her life away from you, in her own, growing world.
Her world expands. The sandpit, the playground, the books, the toys, the friends, the teachers.
She finds them all.
You are still there but no longer needed every step of the way.
You try teaching her, pulling out your bag of alphabets, numbers, rules and values.
And then you sit back, entranced, as her imagination takes you on a journey across pink oceans and purple mountains.
You watch her grow.
Your heart fills up with pride.
Yes, sometimes also with unbearable pain, when the first sign of rebellion strikes and tantrums replace the sunny smile, when the door slams in your face, when angry words and silence meet your futile attempts at disciplining the unreasonable demands.
But you know this too shall pass.
"You are my best friend, Mummy," she laughs when you cook her favourite food or take her on a holiday.
Your eyes fill up with tears, tears you hide quickly, tears you dare not show. You smile.
And you know that very soon that day will come.
Each year, you will have to let go a little bit more.
Each year, she will grow older and become more independent, a little bit more.
Till the day she leaves home and starts her own life, ready to face the world with the knowledge and the courage that you have given her.
You hope you will be ready to let go then. And you hope that at 17, just as at 7, she will still consider you her best friend and share with you her darkest thoughts, her deepest fears, her wildest dreams. That by letting go, you will forge forever the unbreakable tie of love and friendship, love that has no expectations, no boundaries and no end.
You let go.
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