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Once upon a time, our little family of four did everything together (with the exception of when we went to work)  Now, with time fast-forwarded only a few short years, increasingly often I find that we have moments of unplanned quiet in our house as our kids play with friends, or attend to their own growing social calendars.

A part of me loves the moments to myself, the freedom to be productive, or to relax.  (until recently, neither of those two states were even a part of my parental vocabulary) Admittedly, giving up my freedom was the most challenging part of entering into motherhood for me, and now that I am getting a taste of it again, it is both tantalizing and scary.

It is scary because the other part of me cries out for time to slow down. 

When I find myself guilty of fearing the passage of time, I feel like a toddler who is afraid to nap because of what might be missed. I feel a sense of panic, like I need to reach out and grab it, slow it down, internally yelling STOP, please!

Yesterday was one of those pivotal points in time.  It was a wonderful day, but one that stretched my heartstrings to a new limit.

Our family went in three different directions, geographically and socially. Audra spent the day at a hallowe’en party followed by a sleepover with friends, while Dean and I had our own fun dressing up for a hallowe’en party, and spending the night away with friends.

However, it was Ethan was who pulled my heartstrings on this party-filled weekend.  He spent the day in London, Ontario with friends (2.5 hours away! which was a very strange feeling, as up until yesterday, we’ve only been geographically far from our kids if they’ve been with family.) In this case, he was invited with his best friend’s family to go spend the day at the London biking velodrome.  Being a non-biker myself, it took watching a video on it to truly glimpse what an awesome and unique experience this was. (There are only 3 velodromes in North America, and as I learned, the course banks up to 50 degrees and you are clipped into bikes without brakes… !!)

And so, knowing he would love it, and trusting the very capable family he was traveling with, my emotions were those of being stretched to let go just little more, mixed with excitement for this opportunity for him to do something altogether new.  The selfish part of me cried: “I want to be there for all of those “first steps!”- but the realist in me was forced to acknowledge (yet again) that that wish is simply not realistic.  My heart pangs for knowing that my baby boy was: a)far away, b) doing something new, c) doing something steeped in potential for injury, and most of all: doing it all without me there to witness it.

Today in particular, I am so proud of Ethan and the person he is becoming.  I am so proud of how he takes on these new challenges – and of the unconscious current of courage and determination he has to so confidently step away and welcome new experiences.

And on my part, even though it challenges me, I am also proud of myself – because I think that by letting go bit by bit – especially when it’s hard – I am giving my children a clear message to embrace life, push past your fears, and just GO FOR IT.

The fact that I may hold my breath on the sidelines is a secret I will keep from them for just a little longer, although I am certain other moms (and dads) know EXACTLY what I mean.

(For those interested: