When They Let Go of Your Hand


There is an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in which resident surgeon Miranda Bailey drops her son, Tuck, off on his first day of kindergarten. When she comes back to the hospital, she’s out of sorts all day long.

Richard, the hospital chief (is he still the chief in Season 9? I can’t remember) finally asks her what’s going on. And she says tells him. “Tuck let go of my hand.”

“I was, you know, ready for the tears and the goodbye, and how hard it was gonna be,” she continues. “and he just let go of my hand!”

It was a little bit like that with Liam.

This boy, he was born brave – fearless, even when he could do with a healthy dose of fear. He is the child of mine who has been in the ER more then five times, every time for stitches or for flinging himself down some stairs. He has been ready for Kindergarten for weeks. Months maybe.

When the bus pulled up to the bus stop, Liam could barely be bothered to give us a hug goodbye. He ran up those stairs like it was no big thing, and we just stood there, waving, waving, waving, until the yellow bus turned the corner and drove out of sight.

Sending Your Kids to School for the First Time

The house is so quiet.

I have been a stay-at-home-mom for seven-and-a-half years now. So many years of car seats and diapers, of singing songs in a circle in early-childhood classes, of cramming writing into early mornings and naptimes, the drone of Dinosaur Train or Curious George my background music. So many years of holding their hands.

It is remarkable how unremarkable it is when your entire life shifts.

You walk back into the house. You sit down at the kitchen table in front of the computer to work. Everything’s the same. Everything’s different.

One minute it feels like loss, and the next it feels like freedom, and everything is swirling together in the quiet kitchen as I sit here, listening to the low hum of the refrigerator, the sound of clothes in the dryer.

“You know what happens when someone lets go of your hand?” Richard says in the show, after Miranda is done with her tirade about how no one needs her anymore.

“You get it back.

The young child years are over for me now, having disappeared imperceptibly into the elementary school years. I almost can’t believe it, and I’m not used to the feeling, yet, of having my hand back. There is so much I can do now, so much I can choose. Now that they don’t need me quite so much, I can hold other things. And this is a beautiful, hard, necessary thing.

The seasons change, the school bus comes. We let go of each other.

It is an act of love, this releasing. He will get to grab on something new, this boy with his Ironman backpack and his mismatched clothes.

And so will I.

19 thoughts on “When They Let Go of Your Hand

  1. Exactly how I feel. Thanks for summing it up so well. My youngest of 4 just started K – the oldest is 11, so this feeling is so hard to figure out.

  2. I am two years away from mine starting to drive. Trying to build up strength for that in advance. A beautiful, hard, necessary thing indeed.

  3. Crying! Mine just started K-3. He’s also into superheroes and told me the other day, “Superheroes don’t have mommies.” Feelings abound! I hope you are doing well, Addie!

  4. I have three kids and, as of this year, send 2 off to school each day. Even that feels like too much! Only one child at home is…weirdly quiet. I have this strange urge to have another baby! (Which my husband is NOT on board with, and I don’t think is right for our family, anyway.)

  5. This is not unlike when my 18 year old “let go of my hand” 3 weeks ago when we moved him into his dorm. I miss I’m immensely, but now I have one-on-one time with his younger sister. I look forward to hearing about your journey as you rediscover who you are, and who you are becoming. You’re right. It’s bittersweet, but totally necessary.

  6. this is a precious piece of writing. And yes, you’ll get their hand back. Been thinking about you after your last post where you said you need to decide what to do with your new found time. You must really be on my mind after my dream last night, which i told you about on your facebook page!

  7. Addie, just a quick note to say that I loved this beautiful post. Our life situations are different, but you hit perfectly on how I’ve been feeling lately: releasing what was and opening my hands to something new. Thank you. xoxo

  8. Tears as I read this as I am in this same new season you write about. I have a 3rd grader and my youngest just started Kindergarten. It continues to be a mourning time for me as I’m figuring out my new normal and what I will do with “getting my hand back.” So beautifully written. Thank you.

  9. Beautiful. It reminded me of a day back in 1981 when my wife and I walked our oldest son down to the corner and watched him eagerly get on the bus for his first day at real school. He was so happy and excited to be riding the bus to school. When he took his seat by the window and smiled that big grin and waved at us I’m sure he wondered what we were crying about.

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