R-girl does this thing.

holding hands | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk

It’s never been quite clear exactly what sets it off but, once in a while, when the mood strikes, she’ll reach for your hand, squeeze it with all her might, and not. let. go.

Seriously. No matter how much whining, or scolding, or begging, or demanding, or scowling you do. She won’t let go until she’s good and ready.

She has done this to R-boy since he was 24 hours old. It drives him out of his mind. Which, of course, makes her do it more.

A few weeks ago she was pulling this trick on me with one hand while holding her camera in the other and snapping photos.

Caught red handed.

Tonight this picture jumped out at me – because I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about how choosing to love someone means choosing to accept the eventual pain of letting that someone go. From the day you open your heart to a person, you are immediately moving toward the inevitable moment when he or she will break it.

By disappointing.
By changing.
By leaving.

I’m not trying to be all morbid, or pessimistic, or melodramatic. I’m just saying. Even in the sweetest, most amazing marriage/friendship/family of all time, someone will eventually get old, get sick…stop breathing…

Somehow, it’s become even more clear to me lately: If you want to experience love, you have to be willing to also experience loss.

I thought I had a fairly strong set of credentials in this area, and perhaps I do. But I’m realizing that nothing has prepared me for how this process of letting go looks for a mom.

No, my kids aren’t moving out tomorrow. Nothing is ending now.

And yet, actually, a little bit more is ending every day.

This teen and this pre-teen of mine are becoming their own (pretty darn amazing) people. They don’t need me like they did. Their world no longer ends at our front door. It starts there.

And that is as it should be.

But back when my tummy was swelling with the first hints of new life, no one warned me how strong a girl must be to let that baby steal her heart.

Or maybe they did. And I just finally understood…

Anyway, sometimes I’m tempted to pull R-girl’s trick. To hold on with all my might and not. let. go. But I think that would probably squeeze the life out of everything good that I see blossoming under this roof.

So, instead, I will do the hard, clumsy, uncomfortable work of a mother.

I’ll try to hold on.



P.S. These thoughts have been swirling in me for a while but this post by my friend Becky really drove the point home today. Sheesh, Becky. That one was rough. I may or may not have shed a few tears…?!


by julie rybarczyk


  • Beth Elliott

    Since I have had one leave the nest already, I can tell you that it is just as hard and also not as bad as you think it will be. I think I cried off and on for all of Megan’s senior year. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that our give and take continued on – via text, pretty much the same as always, even though she lives an hour away. It was bittersweet to realize that my child may visit but will probably never live under my roof again. The sweet part is in realizing that she is growing into an amazing woman that I not only get to claim as daughter, but also friend.

  • becky

    Oh what a beautiful intimate look at one of the most vulnerable places on earth…a mother’s heart. Thanks for this inside view…

  • Britt

    Am in the same spot my friend…..and you captured the feelings beautifully!


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