“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would I’d never leave.” – Winnie the Pooh
My 6 year old, William has been asking a lot of questions these past few weeks. With a bit of anxiety he asks, “When will I die?… How old will I be when you die?… Will you be alive when I’m 40?… I don’t want to live with out you!… I want to live forever.” Etc. Etc. Etc.
While there are many reasons for his focus on this right now, including facing an infant death in our family in March, his timing doesn’t surprise me. Children are magically tuned into to nature’s cycles, and it is the season of letting go.
In fact, most spiritual traditions acknowledge autumn as a time for endings and beginnings. What is old passes away to make room for the new, like the trees let go their leaves so seeds can germinate to put forth new spring buds.
William has been having a hard transition into this stage for weeks now, cumulating today – his first day of the First Grade! While he is excited to be in “real’ school,” he’s also scared of new demands as well as sad to make the social commitment to leave his teddy bears behind for the Solar System.
With one foot in the warm world of Mickey Mouse and the other in spicy halls of High School Musical, he’s not sure who he is right now. He was eager to decorate his room with all new Outer Space paraphernalia, but cried when he realized it actually meant packing up his old things. He doesn’t want to forget himself as a little kid he says. He wants to still be my baby he adds….
That is, of course, until I actually dropped him off on his first day of First Grade. He was immediately so engrossed that he didn’t even say good-bye! Ahhh. Now it’s my turn to let go!!! And while we may sigh as we exhale, we always delight in the new room we have for a fresh breath. And, this is how change goes. We fear we will forget ourselves or be forgotten. We don’t even know if we will like the ‘new’. We resist it; feel sad, nostalgic, anxious or even angry right up to the precipice. But once we cross the threshold, we realize that we are more ready for the change than we thought; that we are actually more nourished by moving forward than holding ourselves back.
Like the seasons turn, turn, turn – so do our children, so do we. And this is that time again; we must let go, move on, toss out, and conversely, breathe in new life and sync up with the changing rhythms around us and with in.
And keep faith, as Christopher Robin said to Pooh, “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
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