It happens slowly.
A little voice will say, "I can do it," and will push your hand away when you begin to get them dressed as you've done since they came out of you.
A determined voice will go, "I want to do this without training wheels."
You'll hear, "I don't need you to walk home from school with me anymore."
It's a shock, because you still picture her like this:
But yes, Natalie is now coming home on her own. We're on base, so I don't worry about kidnappers so much. It's not completely safe, because there are insane folks everywhere, but it gives me a little more peace of mind.
I worried on the first day she came home on her own.
I paced in front of the window. I said, "If she's not home at the proper time, I'm going after her. I'm going to shout her name dramatically like Michelle Pfiffer shouted her son's name when he was lost in The Deep End Of The Ocean."
Tommy was like, "What?" and raised an eyebrow at me.
I told Tom via Facetime that our little girl wanted to come home ALONE. I expected a, "What's going on with our baby girl?" Instead he calmly chewed on M&Ms and went, "It's a good thing. She's growing up."
"Dammit, I don't WANT her to," I snapped.
I mean, I do. But I don't. She still sits in my lap. She still lets me lay out her clothes. She still wants me to come to her school and have lunch with her. I feel like the things she does is slowly drifting away. I'm aching to catch them and hold on, but I know it's impossible.
She still wears her princess clothes, but even now some kids are telling her she's too old for it. I tell her firmly, "You wear your princess dresses whenever you want. I'm a grown adult and I still wear my Anne Boleyn dress." But one I fear she'll proclaim them to be "babyish."
I am pleased to announce that she's been coming home on her own safely.
As I watched out the window that first day, my heart clenched as I saw her riding her bike towards the house.
She was okay.
She was....dare I say it....growing up.