First Day: The Holding and the Letting Go

For months we’ve been talking about this. This thing is coming. This change. When all the baby wears off and all that’s left is the kid, the child. All those years that felt eternal. And suddenly–poof–he jumps on his bike and rides ahead of you while you run to keep up.

You take Sunday off from the book. You force your brain to stop thinking about and you do all the Home Things, making lunches after church and talking about the week. That’s when he realizes it’s happening tomorrow. This change. This new thing. How many times had you told him, visited the school? How many practice runs? But when he hears it, when it clicks in his mind, he panics. He cries, gasping his breaths and you hold him on the kitchen floor. You don’t want this either. You don’t want it to change. It is always changing. Later, you push the stroller beside the tiniest one on his balance bike. Toddler pace. When you arrive at Golden Gate Park, there are your son and husband, talking it out. We were all five years old once. We were all afraid once. It’s what we do with the fear that determines so much of who we become.


Your husband comes out of his bedroom–the night before–and his eyes are weepy. You hug him in the kitchen and you both cry. How did this happen? How did he grow up? It was not fast. They all say it goes fast. But that wasn’t the feeling. It was its impermanence. Every moment never lasts. The baby changes. And for every new thing gained, another is lost.

I wrote that in my book. I wrote it on his second birthday. How I felt like since the moment he came from my body, I’d been asked to give up more and more of him.

That’s what this was. It was another offering. Another act of remembering what’s real, what’s true. His life is not mine to hold. Every day, I give up more. Every day, he moves toward God.

Pancakes for breakfast and already he has a hair combing ritual. He wore his coolest pink shirt. He is his father’s son. And when we stood outside on the city sidewalk, holding the sign, he was lit bright. Ready for adventure.


Who doesn’t long for their child to be ready? To be hopeful and vulnerable? To carry possibility inside like a pearl, even as he enters a world that may break it, that hope?

I was breathing it out: that feeling of loss, that expectancy. To love a child is to always lose and to always gain, to work toward the shaping of a future man or woman, an adult who will one day leave the child behind.

And by the time the child is grown, you’ve given and lost until you’ve breathed its rhythm as God breathes our lives. Sunrise, Sunset. First day of school. Last day of school. And all the holding and letting go in-between.


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  • This was beautiful.

    • michaboyett

      Thank you, Shanna.

  • I have tears rolling down my cheeks. My oldest daughter’s first day of kindergarten was Sept. 11, 2001. 9/11. In a few weeks she begins her last year of high school.

    • michaboyett

      Wow. I know it happens. I just don’t believe it. Grace to you, MichaelL65.

  • carameredith.com

    love it, mama.

  • Oh, gosh, Micha. Your writing is such a gift.

    • michaboyett

      Leigh. Thank you.

  • Ann Moon

    i’m waiting for a post that *won’t* make me cry, lady. i’ll probably be waiting a long time. =) thanks for expressing so beautifully what we inarticulate people can’t put together.

    • michaboyett

      So happy to be sharing this experience with you, friend. Thanks for the kind words. I’ve given up and decided that making people cry is my spiritual gift. 🙂

  • pastordt

    Heartstoppingly beautiful, Micha. LOVE the shot of the brothers’ hands reaching out to say bye. Thank you for putting such lovely words to this bittersweet time of transition, friend. I hope it’s a truly blessed year for him – and for you.

  • tamarahillmurphy

    Oh, yes.

  • I keep thinking about this. Every moment never lasts. Such a perfect way of describing the ache.

  • fiona lynne

    So beautiful.