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Lauren Kessler

Letting Go

Published in Woman’s Day, May 2011

You wish you could spare her every hurt, 
but letting go is part of the art of mothering.

The doorbell rings. Standing on the porch, studying his shoes as if he were going to be tested on them, is my daughter’s boyfriend. Her first boyfriend. My daughter is 13. The boy, also an eighth-grader, has come to give her a present.

Their texting-in-class-under-the-desk relationship is a month old— which is to say ancient in the world of middle school romances. “I’m in love,” she told me the other day. Then, quickly catching herself, she added, “You wouldn’t understand.”

Of course I would understand. I was once 13 and in love. I grabbed her hand and began telling her about my first boyfriend. I wanted her to know that I was not clueless—in fact, just the opposite. But I became so involved in telling my story that I missed the exact moment her eyes began to glaze over. She pulled her hand away, sighing. This I couldn’t miss. She had stopped listening.

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